Where do you stand in the current pie v. cake debate? I have been noticing that there is a raging controversy regarding the respective merits of each iconic dessert category.
Risking the accusation of being wishy-washy, I refuse to opt for one over the other. I embrace cake for its chocolate, vanilla, mocha, caramel, and similar incarnations (though citrus and other fruit work well in cakes, too). Pie highlights fresh fruit better, one can argue, yet there are exceptions, e.g., chocolate cream, butterscotch, chess, and custard pies.
In the summer, I tend towards pies and their fruit-based cousins, the grunts, slumps, cobblers, crisps, crumbles, pan dowdies, betties, tartes, and gratins (the last two hailing from the French side of the family). But I will use berries I have picked and frozen for pies and their relatives during the winter. I have been known to bake a cake or two in the summer for a special occasion. So a seasonal delineation does not work for the pie v. cake battle in my kitchen, either.
I have always liked the idea of cherry pie, often much more than its reality. As a child, I ordered it for its redness (my favourite colour) but, since then, I avoid it generally. If I think there is any chance of a gloppy, gummy, artificially coloured, pre-made red filling, I will opt for another dessert. This is the sad state of cherry pie-dom in North American restaurants and bakeries, I hate to admit. Pie should be a revelation, not a disappointment.
At our Saturday market last, I noticed a basket of gleaming sour cherries: they were so bright and red and perfect that, on first glance, I thought they were the season’s first cherry tomatoes. I had not known that our island had any of the sour cherries I had been fantasizing about lately, so I could bake a classic cherry pie.
So having purchased one punnit (or, basket, but I love this technical term), I decided to make a sour cherry pie. Later, I regretted not having bought more. I needed far more than the eight ounces I had for even the most modest of pie filling recipes – beyond individual tarts, with which I did not want to fuss: it is summer, after all. I augmented the sour cherries with four ounces of sweet Lapin cherries I had on hand, from the Okanagan (fruit basket of British Columbia, since you asked). Then I decided on a top-crust only British-style pie I found in A Baker’s Tour, from baking guru, Nick Malgieri. The juicy red filling I adapted from food-blogger-celebrity-diva, Deb Perelman, of Smitten Kitchen.
(I hope my blog buddy, Jackie, of the hilarious, creative, and informative site, I Am A Feeder, will comment on this alleged British-top-crust-only pie habit. This makes me recall the 1970s farce, No Sex Please: We’re British. Maybe it should have a sequel, No Bottom Crust Please: We’re British.)
For the pie crust and filling recipe… Continue reading