When we were in Italy in June, we stayed at a friend's house that, as luck would have it, was down the road from a fantastically fertile wild cherry tree. Each morning we'd hike up to it and fill our hats. One morning we even used the rental car as a ladder in order to reach some more choice branches.
So of course, I had to make cherry pie. I used the super-simple Pasta Frolla (cookie-like pie crust) from my new friend Judy Witts Francini's book Secrets From My Tuscan Kitchen, which I reviewed yesterday.
This recipe isn't sickly sweet like cherry pies you might be used to. It honors the fruit in the most basic way — no funny spices or nuts trying to make this something it shouldn't be — and it calls for something simple and creamy as an accompaniment: vanilla or fior di latte ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche. Leftovers were washed down after lunch with a cool glass of the local Chianti, Cacchiano.
That's summer living.
Cacchiano Cherry Pie
1 recipe for Judy Witts Francini's Pasta Frolla (see below)
5 cups pitted fresh (or frozen, defrosted) cherries (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small pieces
Prepare crust as directed and roll out larger lump to 12-inch circle, then gently fit into 9-inch pie dish. Cover and refrigerate.
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 400° F.
In a medium saucepan, cook cherries over medium-low heat with sugar and lemon zest, stirring until sugar has dissolved and cherries have started to lose their shape. Set aside to cool a little. Stir in flour.
Roll out second lump of crust and prepare a lattice or full double-crust top. Remove chilled crust from refrigerator, pierce bottom with tines of a fork a few times, and fill with cherry mixture. Dot with butter, affix top crust and moisten the meeting points of the crusts with wet fingers and flute the edge. If covering fully with a double crust, cut a few slits or decorative shapes in the top to let steam to escape. (If adding any decorative cut-outs, wait to place them on the top until the last 20 minutes of baking.)
Place in oven and bake until crust begins to show color, about 20-25 minutes. Lower heat to 350° F and bake another 30-40 minutes or until cherry juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Pasta Frolla (adapted from Judy Witts Francini)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder (optional, for a lighter crust)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes and chilled
2 large egg yolks
Mix the flour, sugar, optional baking powder, and lemon peel, and "cut in" the butter using your hands or two knives. When the mixture looks like grated Parmesan cheese, add the egg yolks, lemon peel . Knead together until it forms a smooth dough.
Divide into two, almost equally-sized balls and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest, refrigerated, for 30 minutes before rolling out.
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