American

The Beauty of Fruit Pie

by:
September 26, 2019
Photo by Karin Pfeiff Boschek
Author Notes

When you place this pie on the table, your guests will definitely be stunned. This is a great opportunity to show off your pie skills with beautiful apples and plums over a bed of sweet or sour cherries. As an exception to my rule of peeling apples, I chose not to peel the Granny Smith apples to show off their color; however, not everyone will enjoy the peels, so you can peel them if you prefer. To keep their round shape, it is best to use a peeler instead of a knife. This crust design requires the fruit to be cut very carefully into equally thick slices. Place the slices very accurately in a circle to create a mesmerizing effect.

Excerpted from Elegant Pie: Transform Your Favorite Pies into Works of Art by Karin Pfeiff-Boschek, Andrews McMeel Publishing —Food52

  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes one (11-inch/28-cm) pie
Ingredients
  • For the Pie Dough (two batches) and Sour Cherry Filling
  • 2 cups (4 sticks/400g) cold, salted butter
  • 2 medium or large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 dashes ice-cold carbonated mineral water, or ice-cold tap water or still bottled water plus a pinch of cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/4 to 5 cups (30 to 38 ounces/850 to 1050g) sour cherries, fresh, frozen, or canned and drained
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (40 to 60g) cornstarch, or 2/3 cup to 1 cup (80 to 125 g) tapioca starch
  • 1 to 2 cups (200 to 400g) granulated sugar (according to taste and the sweetness of the fruit)
  • For the Pie Assembly
  • 2 to 4 Granny Smith or other green-skinned apples
  • 8 to 10 red plums
  • 1 egg, beaten with a few drops of water
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the pie dough. Begin by preparing the butter and the liquids. Place 2 sticks or measure out 1 cup (200g) of cold butter on a cold board and use a knife to cube it into about 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) pieces. Place the butter back in the refrigerator or freezer.
  2. Once the butter and liquid ingredients are measured out and stored cold, you can make the dough. Sift the flour into 1-cup and 1/2-cup dry measuring cups, and add to a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon salt, and mix with a fork or pastry blender. If the ingredients are very warm, they can now be placed in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Now is a good time to prepare two plastic sandwich bags or two sheets of plastic wrap before getting your hands full of dough. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and immediately begin pressing the flour and butter with your fingers or cutting them together using a pastry cutter, a fork, or two knives. Working quickly, continue this process until the lumps of butter are about the size of peas. If the kitchen and/or your hands are very warm, you may need to stop and put the bowl with the ingredients into the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to recool. Then continue until the butter is adequately cut in and the mixture looks like very rough cornmeal. When done, add the ice-cold liquid to the flour and mix together using a pastry cutter or fork. When most of the flour and butter mixture is wet, you can begin pressing the dough together with your hands. Do not knead or work unnecessarily. Once the dough sticks together in a ball, you can cut it into two portions, transfer each to a bag or sheet of plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or freeze.
  3. Repeat this whole process for a second batch of pie dough.
  4. To prepare the pie shell with bottom crust, roll out 1 batch of pie dough into a round disk about 12 to 13 inches (30 or 33 cm) in diameter and 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. Dust the top and bottom with a brush to remove any excess flour. Carefully drape it over the pie plate and gently press it in. Trim any excess dough around the edge of the plate by pressing with your fingers. Add your cooled filling to the pie shell and gently smooth the top so that it's about 1/4 inch (6 mm) below the edge of the crust. Place the prepared pie shell with filling in the refrigerator until you're ready to begin adding the decorations.
  5. Make the sour cherry filling. Place the cherries, cornstarch or tapioca starch, and 1 to 2 cups sugar in a large saucepan. Depending upon the amount of juice from the cherries, you may need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30ml) of water. Stir to mix and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Once it is thick, turn off the heat and place the pan in cold water in the sink to cool down. When cool, spoon the cherry mixture into a prepared pie shell and proceed with your assembly.
  6. Keep your prepared pie shell with filling in the refrigerator. Roll out the two pieces from the second batch of pie dough into round disks about 12 to 13 inches (30 to 33 cm) in diameter and 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Dust with a soft brush to remove any excess flour. Transfer the disks to lightly floured pastry lifters and place them in the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes.
  7. The green apples can be left unpeeled or peeled. Carefully cut them into very thin wedges. This requires a very sharp and thin paring knife blade. If you wish to cut them all at once, you can drizzle them with lemon juice to keep them from discoloring. Cut the plums into similar-size slices, remove the pie with filling from the refrigerator.
  8. Place the thin wedges of fruit on the filling, alternating apple and plum.
  9. Continue making your pattern of alternating wedges of apple and plum around the periphery of the pie.
  10. Adjust the circle of fruit wedges to finish the design.
  11. Remove one of the dough disks from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Cut out the decorative leaves using a leaf-shaped decorative cookie cutter. Emboss the veins using the back of a paring knife.
  12. Use the second disk of dough as needed to cut additional leaves. Carefully arrange the leaves in the middle so they form a circular shape.
  13. Add another circle of leaves to the center. Check and adjust the arrangement and add the leaves to the periphery as shown.
  14. When all of the fruit and the decorations are in place, put the pie in the freezer for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) with the rack in the bottom position.
  15. Before baking, return the pie to the work surface. Using the small paintbrush, carefully apply the egg wash to the leaves. Place the pie in the oven and bake.
  16. Set the pie on the bottom rack in the preheated oven and set your timer for 20 minutes. It's important to keep an eye on the pie in the oven for those first 15 to 20 minutes to make sure the decorations remain in place and the pie is baking evenly. After 20 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 350°F (175°C) and set a timer for another 45 minutes. After about 30 minutes, it's a good idea to check the browning of the top crust. If the decorations begin to brown excessively, loosely cover the pie with a sheet of aluminum foil or a pie shield. After the pie is done, remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

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