Would you believe…

…the gas company guy showed up as well today to install a new meter. ALSO unannounced. Just grab a hard hat and join the party, pal! What a week this has been. Instead of flour and fondant my hands are covered with primer and concrete mix. Makes me feel manly anyway. Have a great weekend and more from me Monday, promise. – Joe

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Paint and Its Consequences

Stately Pastry manor is getting a new coat of paint this week, but that wasn’t how it was supposed to be. The painters were going to start working in mid-September. Which is why the gutter guys were going to be here the week of the 1st and the carpenter was going to come this Friday. To get the various exterior fixes out of the way before paint went on, you know. As it happened the gutter guy, the carpenter AND the painters all showed up together on Monday. How the heck does that happen without any phone calls? …

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Pie is Not Scary

We all lament the passing of The Great Age of Pie. We remember our grandmothers and the way they seemed to turn out pies almost effortlessly, and wonder a.) whether our grandma’s were technical geniuses, or b.) when exactly it happened that something as easy as pie got to be so darn hard. The fact is that it doesn’t take an engineering degree to make a good pie, nor does it take a lot of time or skill. My feeling is that it’s been the well-intentioned advice of recipe writers over the last few decades that’s made pie seem unapproachable…

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I cannot tell a lie…

I scarfed the whole thing down while watching reruns of River Monsters last night. But you’d do the same if a quart of Michigan sour cherries dropped in your lap one August afternoon, don’t tell me you wouldn’t! Anyway I’m not sorry because tart cherry pie is, in the parlance of the kids today, tha bomb. Shape yours in the same way I did here for peach pie. Combine all your ingredients, save for the crust of course, in a large bowl and stir it all together.


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Filed under:  Cherry Pie, Pastry | 29 Comments

The Pits

Reader Zee wants to know why I’m using almond extract in my cherry pie instead of something like vanilla. Isn’t that a little, well “Euro” for a classic American pie? he asks. Zee, it may be, however I find that a little almond extract is great in a cherry filling. The almond flavor is already present in cherries, you see, so the combination isn’t forced at all. It’s natural to the point of being almost invisible.

But why is almond part of the cherry flavor profile to begin with? It’s because it’s a drupe, and the pits of drupes — specifically those of the genus prunus — all taste like almonds. Almonds themselves are actually drupe pits, not nuts if you can believe it. And in fact there are other drupe pits out there that taste even more like almonds than almonds. Apricot pits, for example, which are used to make the almond liqueur Amaretto.


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Sweet Cherries, Sour Cherries

Reader Mac asks how sweet cherries compare to sour cherries when they’re in pie form. Mac, that’s a loaded question for a guy who grew up so close to Traverse Bay. To me sour cherries are the only proper filling for a pie, tart, Danish or blintz, and the only cherry I’d consider for making jam. Sweet cherries are excellent just to eat as they are, but are a little one-dimensional as a baked-in filling. …

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Cherry Pie Recipe

My father loves sour cherry pie so much he planted a cherry tree in our back yard when I was a kid. I can still remember how he draped the thing with nets to keep invading birds out…and the hours my twin sister and I spent pitting cherries for pies. Oh, the stains our our school uniforms! But it was worth it since there’s nothing quite like a good sour cherry pie. To make one you’ll need:

1 recipe standard pie crust
4 cups pitted sour cherries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup sugar
generous pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract


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Filed under:  Cherry Pie, Pastry | 13 Comments

Hold the Phone!

Look what Mrs. Pastry and the girls brought me from up North! Two quarts of fresh sour cherries. Oh yeah. If there’s one thing that stinks about living in the more southerly portions of the United States it’s that fresh sour cherries are all but impossible to find. If you don’t hear much from me today it’s because I’ll be spending what free time I have making pie. Excuse me, won’t you?…

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How to Prevent Chocolate Bloom

As I mentioned just below, there are two kinds of chocolate bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom. Neither are catastrophic to your chocolate supply (just melt the stuff), and both can be prevented to one degree or another.

First, fat bloom. If you’re applying melted chocolate as a glaze or as a coating on some home made truffles, all you need to do to inhibit streaks is to put the finished products into the refrigerator. The quick burst of cool essentially freezes the cocoa butter molecules in place before they have a chance to congregate on the surface of the chocolate. Note that the effect isn’t necessarily permanent once the chocolate is removed from the refrigerator, so you might want to keep your whatever-the-are’s chilled…

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What is chocolate “bloom”?

Reader Jey asks if I would talk a little about chocolate bloom and provide some tips for preventing it. Jey, I would be delighted. First let’s define our terms. The grey streaks or spots that appear on chocolate when it melts and re-firms, or when it’s stored for long periods in the refrigerator or freezer, is called “chocolate bloom”. There are two kinds of it: fat bloom and sugar bloom. Both have different causes and fixes.

Fat bloom is caused by cocoa butter pooling up and forming crystals. This doesn’t happen when chocolate is tempered properly because a.) the controlled cooling process keeps the chocolate emulsion nice and stable and b.) it creates a strong and even crystal structure. However untempered chocolate, being something of a riot of different sorts of fat crystals, is prone to unsightly streaks.


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