Friday, July 4, 2014


Americans traditionally celebrate Independence Day with flags, parades, BBQ picnics, and spectacular fireworks. I love get-togethers with friends/family on the Fourth of July to  share laughter, play games, and eat plenty of good food. And of course, no celebration would be complete without the quintessential American dessert known as the pie. Leave the cookies, cakes, and fruit salads at home, folks. We need pie! Your pie can be icebox, baked, or simply filled with a variation of goodness like fruit, nuts, custard, or cream. I've got a fruit pie in the oven -- a Sweet Cherry Pie recipe published July 2010 in the Los Angeles Times. (Note: I modified the Double-Crust recipe.) Let's hope it's as good as it looks. Happy Fourth!

Sweet Cherry Pie
3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling over the pie
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier
1 egg
Prepared pie crust for 1 double-crust pie (recipe below)

  1. Heat the oven to 350º degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the 3/4 cup sugar with the cornstarch. Stir in the cherries, coating completely, then stir in the vanilla and Grand Marnier until evenly combined.
  3. Roll out and line a 9-inch pie plate with half the pie crust. Pile in the cherries, sprinkling over the cherries any additional sugar-cornstarch mixture that did not stick to the fruit.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg to form a wash. 
  5. Prepare the top crust, adding decorative cutouts or cutting lattice strips if desired. Cover the top of the pie with the prepared top crust, sealing the edges with the egg wash and cutting vents if needed.
  6. Brush the top of the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle over a light coating of sugar.
  7. Place the pie in the oven and bake until the crust is a rich golden color and the filling is bubbly and thick, about 1 hour and 15 minutes; rotate the pie halfway through for even coloring, and tent if needed to prevent over-coloring. 
  8. Cool before serving.

Double-Crust Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, chilled
1 cup of cold water
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup ice

  1. Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. 
  2. Add the butter pieces and shortening with the flour mixture using a spatula. 
  3. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain.
  4. Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or bowl. 
  5. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.
  6. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. 
  7. Shape the dough into two separate but equal flat discs. Wrap each disc separately in plastic, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give crusts time to mellow.