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These days, truly delicious sweet cherries -- firm, deep red, and unbelievably sweet -- are pretty commonly available at certain times of the year. And when that times arrives, we suggest trying this pie, an almond-scented custard studded with cherries, nestled in a buttery crust and crowned with almond streusel topping.
Use any single-crust pie crust recipe sized for a 9-inch pan.
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (1 ounce)King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups pitted, halved sweet cherries (about 3/4 pound to start)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (3 ounces) glazing or confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) diced almonds (blanched or not)
a pinch of salt
Crust: Roll the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan, crimping the edges. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork or dough docker, and if possible, use pie weights or a nesting pan to line the crust; this will keep it from bubbling. Bake ("blind-bake") the crust in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until it's lightly browned. Remove it from the oven, and reduce the oven heat to 400°F. Allow the crust to cool slightly before removing the weights or the nesting pan. If you didn't line the crust and it puffed up, prick it gently with a fork to deflate it.
Filling: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt. Add the remaining ingredients, except the cherries, and whisk well. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or for the time it takes to pit and slice the cherries. Whisk the filling together once again; this helps the sugar to dissolve.
Pour the filling into the pre-baked crust. Sprinkle the cherries over the top. Some will sink -- don't worry, they're supposed to. Use a pie crust shield or aluminum foil to shield the top edge of the crust. Bake the pie in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes. While the pie is baking, make the streusel topping.
Streusel Topping: If you have a food processor, just place all of the topping ingredients into the work bowl and process until it begins to form crumbs. To prepare the topping by hand, finely chop the almonds (or use almond flour -- the texture will be a bit less "chunky"), then whisk in the sugar, flour and salt. Rub or cut in the butter to form crumbs.
By the time the pie has baked for 20 minutes, it will have just begun to set up around the edges. Carefully sprinkle the streusel over the top, leaving the crust shield in place. Bake the pie for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until it's puffed, the crumbs are very lightly browned at the edges, and/or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads above 160°F.
Remove the pie from the oven, cool for about 2 hours, and sprinkle with confectioners' or glazing sugar before serving. Refrigerate any uneaten pie. Yield: 8 to 12 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1/8 of pie, 142g): 543 cal, 29g fat, 6g protein, 26g complex carbohydrates, 38g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 127mg cholesterol, 185mg sodium, 101mg potassium, 261RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 50mg calcium, 86mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 5, Summer 2001 issue.