Bittersweet Baking Honorable Mention: Best Bittersweet Story

Our Bittersweet Baking is over and the winners announced, but we just have to show you a few more entries. These are entrants that didn't make it to the finals but had something really outstanding.

Here is our first honorable mention: Stephanie with what we felt was really by far the best bittersweet story we received...

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From Stephanie:

My entry is "Go Buckeye Cherry Pie" it's a pie I first made for the Ohio State University football team playing in the National Championship game this year. The pie is "bittersweet" because OSU, sadly, lost the game for the 2nd year in a row.

However, this pie is truly fantastic, my dad's favorite, and was a great end to a night of snacking on game-day foods. Perfect when served with a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream and enjoyed with a warm cup of coffee during these cold Ohio winter days.

Baking has become a true passion of mine since I was very sick and bed bound a couple years ago after having major ankle surgeries because of two forms of muscular dystrophy I have. I lost a dangerous amount of weight due to the surgeries and my chronic illnesses and was more ill than I've ever been. I started reading food blogs (like Apartment Therapy!) and cookbooks, and thanks to proper medication and physical therapy getting me out of bed and walking again, I began baking as a way to gain weight. It worked wonderfully!

Not only do I get some exercise standing in the kitchen and prepping ingredients as well as rolling out dough, etc. but my hard work usually pays off with some very tasty end results!

I made this pie as an homage to my late paternal grandfather who truly loved pie (and baking it) and the Ohio State Buckeyes! I know he would have loved to share this pie with our family as we watched OSU not only in the Championship game, but all the exciting wins that led them to New Orleans! Besides, there's always next year, and there's always room for cherry pie and a hot cup of coffee!



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Pie crust is from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
You'll need a large-capacity food processor to make a double crust. If your machine isn't large enough, make the dough in two batches.

For a 9-inch Double Crust:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut intro tablespoon-size pieces
1/2 cup very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

For a 9-inch Single Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing -- what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tablespoons of the water if making a double crust, 3 tablespoons if making a singe crust -- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened of form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.

If making a double crust, divide the dough in half. Gather each half into a ball, flatten each ball into a disk and wrap each half in plastic. Or shape the dough for a single crust into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)

TO ROLL OUT THE DOUGH: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand.

You can roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap or in a rolling slipcover. (I usually roll this dough out on the floured counter.) If you're working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. If you are rolling between paper, plastic or in a slipcover, make sure to turn the dough over often and to lift the paper, plastic or cover frequently so that it doesn't roll into the dough and form creases.

If you've got time, slide the rolled-out dough into the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest and firm up.

FOR A DOUBLE-CRUSTED PIE: Fit one circle of dough into the pie plate, allowing the excess to hang over. Trim to a 1/8- to 1/4-inch overhang. Fill the pie and moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water. Center the second piece of dough over the filling and press it against the bottom crust. Using a pair of scissors, cut the top crust's overhang so that it extends about 1/4 inch over the bottom crust. Tuck the excess top crust under the bottom crust and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can seal the doubled-up crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork. Follow the pie recipe's instructions for baking.

FOR A SINGLE CRUST: Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.

TO PARTIALLY OR FULLY BAKE A SINGLE CRUST: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

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Cherry Pie recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen Lattice-top Cherry Pie

FILLING
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
5-6 cups cherries (2 29-ounce jars or 4 14.5-ounce cans, drained) (Steph's note: I ONLY use Trader Joe's jarred Morello cherries, 2 jars; and Oregon Fruit company's Red Tart Pie Cherries packed in water, 1 can, to make cherry pie)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon water

Filling: Mix 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Stir in cherries and almond extract.
Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet in the rack. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Roll dough disk on lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, cut dough to 1/2 inch larger than the pan, fold extra dough underneath itself so it hangs over the edge a bit, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. I use second disc of dough to cut-out decorative shapes to top the pie, otherwise you can cut lattice strips, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze dough 30 minutes.

Spread cherries in unbaked pie crust. Top with cut-outs or lattice strips, brush with water, sprinkle top with remaining sugar.

Place pie on heated baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes.

Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to almost room temperature so juices thicken, 1-2 hours.

Thanks Stephanie, and we hope your bittersweet story has a happier ending next year!

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