Trader Joe's has been selling bags of deliciously tart Montmorency dried cherries, and I've been waiting for the right recipe to throw them in to. I knew I wanted to make an apple pie for Thanksgiving, so I figured they'd work well within the basic recipe, So I poured about 2/3 cup of the dried little cherries into a bowl, covered them with Kirsch and let them soak up all that goodness overnight.
The next morning they had nearly tripled in size, having soaked up all that booziness. The little Kirsch that was left in the bowl was now dark red, reduced down to the purest cherry essence.
I started with the pie crust. I use frozen pie shells or store bought pie dough because of an admittedly irrational fear of pastry, bread, etc dough of any kind.... but by all means, make your own pie crust if you have a standard recipe you like, because it always, always tastes better. The frozen ones are fine too, but I know nothing tastes better than homemade.
But I digress! I baked the bottom shell at 400 degrees for 10 minutes/'til the edges turn slightly golden. Then took it out to cool down while I worked on the filling:
- 2 pounds Granny Smith, Braeburn, or other tart apples (about 5-6 med. apples)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
In another small bowl mix together, with fingertips: brown sugar, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Spoon apple mixture into pie crust and top with brown sugar mixture. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Weave extra pie dough strips in a lattice pattern over pie. Brush top with milk or butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie in middle of oven for 1 hour , or until top is golden and the filling is bubbling. Great with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.
The other pie I made is a favorite standard- Maple Pumpkin Pie. It's so simple, easy and no-frills, and friends always love it. I tweaked this recipe a bit... I take out the brown sugar entirely and instead add about 4 more tablespoons of good maple syrup (for a whopping 10 tablespoons total), and I use fresh grated cinnamon and nutmeg in place of pre-packaged pumpkin pie spice mix. And then I gobble it all up.