Monday, March 25, 2013

Cherry Pielettes

My next scheduled blog post isn't until Wednesday, but because of a late-season blizzard Sunday night, Dear Husband's choir practice was canceled for probably the first time during this cycle of cicadas. We decided to take advantage of the free evening together--the last of my Spring Break--to put on a Bach cantata and have a baking party. We get to eat the results, and you get an extra blog post!

DH had a hankering for chocolate-chip cookies, so that's what he's getting ready to mix up on his half of the island. Because it was snowing, he also had a hankering for cherry pie, but that requires three times as many cans of cherries as we had in the pantry. I decided to get inventive and make mini cherry pies in our muffin tins. He's the pie-baker in our relationship, however, so this entailed me learning how to make pie dough. That's my first attempt on the cutting board on the other side of the island.

We share the cooking 50/50, but DH does 3/4 of the baking.
Am I a lucky woman or what?
We've had some difficulties with getting our chocolate-chip cookies to rise in the past--I once sent my middle brother a St. Patrick's Day care box of flat, green chocolate-chip cookies that he was gracious enough to eat--and I finally traced the problem to el cheapo bleached flour. Once we bought better flour, the non-rising cookie problem stopped, or so I thought. DH swears he's had a batch fail to rise since then and wants "cakey" cookies. I think his usual cookies are perfect, but he tried out a slightly different recipe this time, with a higher flour to butter ratio and less brown sugar. I thought the results tasted like "crunchy snowflakes"--appropriate for the situation, don't you think?

As for the cherry pielettes, I used a simple pie crust recipe of flour, butter, and a little bit of water. That made enough crust for six cupcake wells, so I got to refine the flour to water ratio for the crust of the last four wells. All told it was about 1/2 cup butter + 1 3/4 cups flour + 4-5 tbsp cold water. The filling consisted of one can drained sour cherries + 1/8 cup white sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon. It turns out each cup held 4 cherries and a couple teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice. When I couldn't find a cup the right size to cut circles out of the dough, I rolled the dough kind of thick and then flattened it with my fingers to fit the wells.

Here is the first batch, filled and topped with something approximating a lattice. Because the bottom crusts were never quite tall enough, unfortunately there wasn't anything to crimp the lattice to. I just had to trust that the crust would bake together. The first batch went into the oven at 375 F for 25 minutes, which turned out to be too long. The second batch turned out better (i.e. less crispy) after 15 minutes. If I were doing this experiment again, I think I would turn the oven down to 325 or 350 and bake them for about 10 minutes. If you try this at home, adjust according to how crunchy you like your pie crust.

Here I am with the second batch of four. I had greased the wells with butter papers, so with a little twisting and the leverage of a fork, all but one cherry pielette came out of the tin. One had boiled over, stuck to the pan, and had to be consumed on the spot. It was a tragedy, I tell you. DH is supposed to bring some French vanilla ice cream home after his rehearsals tonight so we can have our single-serving pies a la mode!
It was quite the storm: we got 6 inches of snow
by nightfall, and we woke up to 6 more inches.
In fact, Spring Break was officially one day longer,
as the University cancelled classes on Monday.
Who else has had baking adventures? Share in the comments!

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