I really wish I could create perfectly neat pies. Mine are always a little rough handed or 'rustic' as I like to call them. But there's a great sense of satisfaction that comes with baking pies. Maybe it's the love that goes into making the pastry. If someone gave me a pie I'd feel pretty special.
The pro of a rustic looking pie is that you can just dive in with the spoon and eat straight out of the dish and it will still look good - exhibit a below. Let's be honest, that really is the best way to eat pie...straight out the dish. Maybe hiding in the kitchen with a gin & tonic...just me? Ok.
I am very happy to be part of the blog tour for Rosie Birkett's new book 'A lot on her Plate'. If you aren't familiar with Rosie's work then you are in for a treat with this book. She is a food writer, stylist and journalist who has worked with the Guardian, Olive and Waitrose Kitchen. Her recipes are adventurous but straightforward to make and a brilliant way to shake up your meals. Her bavette and chips with anchovy butter is at the top of my list for a brilliant mid-week feast. I've already made the coconut almond granola and have a huge jar of it sat on my desk at work. It's absolutely dreamy with sliced banana and a little almond milk or sprinkled over Greek yoghurt.
I have to give five stars to Helen Cathcart's stunning photography in the book. I've been staring at the photos nearly every night since the book arrived. Helen has also done the photography for Kate's new book Homemade Memories, which I can't wait to read.
The only changes I made were to add orange zest to the cherry mixture and a layer of frangipane to the base. The main reason for the frangipane was because I forgot how deep my pie dish was and I should have doubled the amount of cherries but didn't think about this until after I did the shopping. So I looked around my kitchen and decided a frangipane would work really well. And it did. (If you aren't keen on frangipane then just doubling the filling amounts below)
Cherry Almond Pie
for the pastry:
2 tablespoons caster sugar
260g (2 cups) plain all-purpose flour
40g (generous 1/3 cups) ground almonds
pinch of salt
180g (6oz) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon demerara sugar, for sprinkling
for the filling:
100g (3 1/2oz) black cherry jam
1 tablespoon cherry brandy, kirsch or amaretto (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with 2 teaspoons cold water
zest of 1 orange
500g fresh cherries, pitted and halved
for the frangipane (optional, see notes):
120g unsalted butter, softened
120g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
120g (1 cup)ground almonds
- To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar, salt, almonds and butter in a food processor and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of ice cold water while it is still running. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
- Remove and divide into two. Shape into discs and wrap each disc in cling film. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/ Gas Mark 6 and grease your pie dish. Remove one of the discs of pastry from the fridge and roll it out 1 inch wider than your pie dish (or more if your dish is deeper). Lay on a floured baking sheet and chill for another 10 minutes. Repeat with the other disc of pastry.
- In a medium pan, heat the jam with 100ml of water, nutmeg, vanilla and orange zest until melted. Then add the diluted cornflour and stir until smooth and thickened. Add the cherries and gently coat them in the jam mixture. Remove from the heat.
- If making the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar together for a minute. Add the eggs, mix and then fold in the ground almonds. Set aside.
- Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer one of the pastry sheets over the greased pie dish. Let it sink into the dish and gently lift the pastry and tuck it into the corners of the dish. Trim off the excess pastry and prick the base with a fork. If using frangipane tip that into the base and smooth over. Pour the cherry mixture on top.
- If you want to decorate your pie lid, cut out some shapes or letters just smaller than the diameter of the dish. Then carefully lay across the top of the pie. Trim any excess pastry and pinch the edges together to create a crust.
- Brush the pastry with the leftover beaten egg and sprinkle with some demerara sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180 C/350 F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for another 35-40 minutes. At this point I covered the pie with tin foil to prevent it burning. The filling should be bubbling and the lid golden. Leave to cool for around an hour before serving.
A Lot on Her Plate by Rosie Birkett (Hardie Grant, £25.00) Photography: Helen Cathcart
I was very kindly sent a copy of the book by Hardie Grant but all opinions are my own.