About a month ago, I told Eric I was in the mood to bake a pie and asked him what kind he'd like. Without missing a beat, he answered, "Cherry-lime." Eric's standard answer when I ask him what he wants for any meal is "Food" - because for some reason he finds that hysterical. So I figured I'd take advantage of his sudden decisiveness and make him a Cherry-Lime Pie.
|Marge prefers to get stoned before baking. (Photo: Copyright StefanieJaffeWerner.com)|
Since I'm not by nature a baker, I always do some research before attempting anything I've never made before. Much to my surprise, I couldn't find a recipe for a Cherry-Lime Pie in any of my cookbooks - not even among my growing collection of vintage tomes. (We'll talk about that later. I've recently developed a passion for antique cookbooks.So far the highlight of my collection is a pair of books written by Vincent Price and his second wife, Mary.) So I hit the Interwebs, thinking that surely one of the Big Four (Martha, Paula, Alton and Rachel) would have planted a flag here - but again, nothing.
Crap. What do I do now? I'm pretty fearless in the kitchen, but I'm not a fool. Cooking is intuition and a knack for combining flavors, combined with a handful of well-honed techniques. Baking is a science, so if you don't know the exact chemistry involved, you'll end up with a mess.
There was no way that I was going to let this beat me, so I decided to play mad scientist and experiment. I looked at every recipe I could find for cherry pie made from Colonial America to Giada di Laurentiis. Then I looked at cooked lime pie recipes. Then I thought about it, had a cocktail or two, and then thought some more. By the time I finished my pitcher of martinis, I'd arrived at a recipe.
The first attempt tasted heavenly, but was a tad watery. As soon as I cut the first piece from it, the filling rushed out into the void. Chilling it overnight didn't help either. Lesson learned. Next time, more cornstarch and less liquid.
Attempt number two was a raging success. How much of a success? Well do you remember Four and Twenty Blackbirds' Cranberry Sage pie? I'd put my Cherry-Lime Pie up against it in a competition without hesitation. (In fact, it was so good that I have to admit I selfishly Bogarted the majority of the pie.)
And here, Faithful Readers, just in time for Valentine's Day (or Presidents' Day if you're so inclined) is the recipe so that you too can indulge. Enjoy!
Eric’s Cherry-Lime Pie
Crust for 2-crust pie (Use your best recipe or your favorite prepared roll-out crust: I find that Pillsbury crusts or Walmart’s crusts work just fine. And if you don’t spill the beans, nobody will ever know.)
2 14.5 oz. cans unsweetened sour cherries (preferably in water), well drained (reserve liquid)
3/4 c. + 2 tbsp. unrefined sugar (You can use regular white sugar, but unrefined gives the pie a little added body.)
1/3 c. fresh lime juice + zest from 1 lime
1/2 tsp. almond extract
4 tbsp. liquid from canned cherries
4 tbsp. corn starch
3 tbsp. maraschino syrup, mainly for color (Reese makes syrup with real sugar and no HFCS. If you can’t find maraschino syrup, grenadine – which is made from pomegranate – will work.)
1 egg + 1 tbsp half & half or whole milk
Heat drained cherries in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When cherries begin to simmer, add 3/4 c. sugar and lime zest.
While cherries warm, heat liquid from cherries and lime juice in a small saucepan or microwave until tepid. Whisk in cornstarch and blend well.
When cherry/sugar/lime zest mixture begins to bubble, stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat, stir in almond extract and maraschino syrup. Cool to lukewarm.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Beat egg and milk in a small bowl until well blended. (Here’s a handy tip I’ll bet your mother never taught you: If you want the yolk and white to combine more easily when you’re beating eggs for anything from an omelette to your grandmother’s bread pudding recipe, let the eggs sit out until they reach room temperature. Just don’t let them sit out too long or you might find yourself explaining to the E.R. staff how you managed to give your whole family salmonella.)
Line a 9” pie pan with one half of crust, leaving the extra dough hanging out of the pan. Cut second half of crust into half-inch strips and arrange into basket-weave lattice on a piece of wax paper. Chill for 15 minutes to allow dough to stiffen, which will make it easier to transfer the lattice to the top of your pie. (Here’s another tip: If a lattice crust seems too much like work or getting that basket-weave thing down is simply beyond you, cut squares out of a rolled out piece of crust with a butter knife to simulate a basket-weave effect.) Trim bottom crust and lattice ends, leaving enough to allow you to crimp both together and pinch closed. (Tip No. 3: I trim sparingly and then roll the edges of my crusts together, rather than pinching them. That leaves more dough to create a nice thick dimpled edge, which you can create by pressing a finger into the outside edge of the crust and rotating the pie pan until you come back to your starting point.) Brush crust with egg mixture – taking care not to use too much or you’ll end up with chunks of cooked egg where it pools. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Place pie on baking sheet (to catch any filling overflow) and bake on bottom rack in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until crust just begins to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, transfer pie to center rack and bake 40-45 minutes (eyeballing frequently) or until crust is a lovely golden brown and filling is bubbly and thick.
Remove from oven and cool on baking rack until filling sets and pie is cool enough to safely eat. (Again, you don’t want to end up in the E.R., this time explaining scalded tongues.)
"There once was a peddler passing by, his cart with fruit was laden high. And as he drove along he cried, across the village green, 'Apples. Peaches. And cherries.'"
"No! Cherries." - Peggy Lee
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