On Friday night, four of us sat around my kitchen bench drinking and eating chilli and cornbread and laughing about that old adage ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’. We were laughing because it was something that parents and grandparents used to say – but then we were laughing because I said that I thought it was true.
It reminded me of my first crush. From the moment I laid my eyes on him, I knew that I’d have to master the Cherry Pie. I knew that without this skill – without this recipe – he’d never give someone like me the time of day. And even worse, I knew that I wasn’t the only the only one who felt this way about him. If I ever wanted Special Agent Dale Cooper to marry me, I’d have to be able to make a damn good cherry pie. And on Friday night, after the chili and more wine, we realised that I’d finally done it. As it turns out, I may be a few years too late. Sigh. Anyway, I think the secret was the cherries.
To make a real Twin Peaks Cherry Pie, you need to use tart pie cherries, so on Friday morning I pulled out the super-rare morello cherries I’d bought from an old Polish woman in the summer at the farmer’s market. Now, unless you have a tree or a neighbour with a tree, these little darlings are pretty hard to come by. The day I brought them home, I diligently pit the whole lot and then flash froze them. They’d been in the freezer door and I’d look at them and think of Dale (not Kyle) every couple of days, waiting for the right moment. When it arrived, I made a quart of David Lebovitz’s amazing vanilla bean ice cream and turned on the oven. And everyone agreed that with this cherry pie, I could have won Special Agent Dale Cooper's heart. I suppose it might work on others, too.
Twin Peaks Cherry Pie
This 'should' serve eight people.
1 quantity of easy flaky pastry made with 2 tbsp caster sugar
Milk to glaze (rather than egg)
1 ¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp arrowroot powder (tapioca flour)
2 tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
1 tsp cinnamon
5 – 6 cups of fresh, frozen (not thawed) or tinned (and drained) morello cherries
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp almond essence
Make pastry, halve, wrap in plastic and pop in the fridge to chill for at least one hour (even two).
About 30 minutes before baking, add sugar, arrowroot, corn flour and cinnamon to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add cherries and essences and turn until well coated with sugar mixture. Set aside for 20 – 30 minutes.
For an easier-to-handle lattice top, roll out top pastry and cut neatly into strips. Use a ruler if you like precision: usually I can’t be bothered. Pop these strips onto a baking paper-lined oven tray and into the freezer for 20 minutes or so. They’ll be easier to handle and weave when they’re firm!
When ready to bake, roll remaining disk of pastry to fit a standard sized pie plate. Trim, leaving a 1cm overhang. Pour in cherries and scrape in all the sugar mixture – this will make your sauce! Carefully arrange firm pastry strips in a lattice weave over the top of the pie. Leave it to rest and soften for a few minutes.
When softened, gently press the strips into the edge and turn under, as for a regular pie. You can then shape the edge to the design you like best, or simply crimp with a fork. Brush with milk and pop into oven. Bake at 220C for 30 minutes then cover edges with foil to prevent burning. Return to oven, turn down to 200C and bake until pie is golden – around 30 minutes (in my terrible oven).
Remove and set aside for around 30 minutes. I know it’s tempting, but if you cut a slice right away it will fall apart! Trust me. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.