Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet cherry pie for my sweet

My baby turned two yesterday so even I, despite being a somewhat delusional smitten mother, can no longer justify calling him a baby. He is now officially my big boy or my little guy.

Last summer, inspired by all the blogs I read, I bought a cherry pitter on sale.

I know this has no connection with what I just wrote, but bear with me.

It was already the end of cherry season so I put it away and by the fall I knew I had bought yet another one of those kitchen utensils that would end up at the back of my kitchen drawers. However, as summer came round and cherries started appearing at the market and at our table, I thanked my lucky stars I had bought that gadget.

You see, my son is cherry obsessed, he cannot get enough of them. He is also a toddler, with all the fixations that ensue. There is no way he will eat a cherry that I lovingly prepare for him by cutting it into small pieces (to get rid of the pit and to ensure he doesn't choke). Nope, he does what his big sister does, thank you very much, and believe me, he has his ways of convincing us. I will leave it at that.

Enter the cherry pitter, my best friend (I already have a lover), my saviour. Mommy and Daddy quickly pit a few cherries and he gets his bowl of round, red whole spheres minus the pits and he is happy as a lark. And so are we. No more ear plugs required at the dinner table.

So I decided to make him a cherry pie for his birthday. He nibbled at it, like my kids mostly do around cake, and even had a cherry. It was a success.

So happy birthday, little guy.

My little guy, who sings "to youuuu" every time someone says happy birthday to him (in Italian and English).
My little guy, whose canines are as pointy and sharp as a wolf cub's. And don't ask me how I know.
My little guy, who loves cows and monkeys above all, except his sister maybe.
My little guy, who repeats whole sentences, gestures and intonations without really saying a word.
My little guy, who offers his cheek when asked for a kiss.
My little guy, whose legs turn to jelly when he doesn't want to do something.
My little guy, who still loves it when I kiss the sole of his feet like when he was a teeny baby.
My little guy, who drinks water like there is no tomorrow.
My little guy, who sings along to any song he hears.
My little guy, who was an ugly duckling that is turning into a swan.
My little guy, who never wanted to come out and left sagging tummy skin visible signs of protest.
My little guy, who proves to me daily that I was wrong, that it was much better having a little boy instead of another girl.

Happy birthday baby big boy. I love you.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients for dough
 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 1 cup or 225gr) unsalted butter, very cold

Ingredients for filling
4 cups pitted cherries
4 tbsp cornstarch (I used potato starch)
2/3 cup sugar (adjust according to sweetness of cherries)
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with 2 tbsp water (I skipped this part)
Coarse sugar to decorate

First of all, when making pie dough - especially in the summer - it is essential that the dough remain cool and that you work quickly. This will ensure butter particles in the dough that will form pockets of steam when the crust bakes and buttery flakiness. So prepare your ingredients beforehand. Fill a liquid measuring cup with water and pour it into a bowl with a few ice cubes. In a large enough bowl to work with your hands whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice the butter into 1/2-inch pieces making sure it is very cold. Put it back into the fridge if you need to. At this point, if you are lucky enough to have a pastry blender, please use it. I don't so I used two knives and a whisk instead, with not great results. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour and start working them in. When they have become the size of very small peas start drizzling 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water over the mixture. Gather the dough using a spatula. You will need up to an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to bring the dough together. I needed less, so make sure you add it a tablespoon at a time. When you are working large clumps together with the spatula, start using your hands. Bring the clumps together into a mound, kneading gently. Divide the dough in half or into a larger and a smaller  ball and place in seran wrap, flattening them into discs. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling it out.

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt and lemon in a bowl. Roll out half or the larger piece of chilled dough onto a work surface previously sprinkled with flour. Place it in a 9-inch pie pan (I rolled it onto my rolling pin but you can also fold it into quarters and unfold it in the pan). I was not particularly accurate or neat because my dough was a little sticky (too much water!) and because I was trying to work fast, but at this point you should trim edges so that you have a half-inch overhang. Put filling into pie crust (if it is liquid, discard most of it by spooning it). Dot the filling with the pieces of cold butter and then roll out the remaining dough, draping it over the filling and then trim accordingly. Seal the two crusts by pressing the edges together and folding them over. There are entire tutorials online on how to do this, but I kept it messy simple and it turned out fine. If you are so inclined, brush the egg wash over the pie crust and sprinkle with the sugar. Cut slits in the crust to form steam vents and bake the pie for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F/175°C and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Let pie cool on a rack.


  1. Auguriiiii sia al piccolo che alla mamma! Kids grow up too fast! :( My eldest will be 4 in 3 weeks and I cannot believe it. My youngest who's 1.5 has grown so much in the last couple of weeks... mi cresce letteralmente sotto gli occhi! SIGH It's hard not to think of them as babies anymore... Lovely post! <3

  2. Right around now I usually start fixating on blueberry pies, and now you've given me a great alternative! Also, I can finally start using the stupid cherry pitter that's been sitting in the back of one of my drawers for years. Plus, I can use it to pit the girl's cherries cause apparently she and your little guy went to the same "how to drive my parents insane with my stubbornness" class, had never thought of doing this, THANKS!

  3. Love your pie! Love your sentiments! They have made me very nostalgic. Mine is 21 - sorry, he is still my baby ... Tanti Auguri to your sweet boy!

  4. Cherries galore as my post today was also about cherries. :) Buon compleanno to your son, my youngest is 27 and I have no idea how the years flashed by so quickly!

  5. Oh happy birthday!! What a special dessert for your sweet. I think even though Roman will be 2 in September, I'll still be calling him baby, until he objects! :)

  6. A sweet post and a sweet pie for a little guy who, I'm sure, is just as sweet -- if not more so!

  7. Thanks all for the birthday wishes
    Manu - isn't it amazing how little ones grow so much in just a matter of weeks? That recently happened with my little boy. He was a baby forever and then one morning he had turned into a little boy.
    Moomser - glad to have given you the idea. They really should shut that stubborness school down.
    Andrea - Oh gosh, before I know it mine will be 21 too. Time flies
    Lindy - I saw your post on cherries and tried commenting with the usual problems. What a coincidence. I did however tweet you about it. Hope it feels comforting to be home after your last trip...
    Nicole - truth is, I will still keep calling mine baby too. After all, he is the baby of the family.
    Meister - thanks. He is a sweet little guy

  8. AUGURI, piccolo grande amico nostro! zia Cla, Zio Ro e Sofia

  9. I loved your post as much as I love your recipe!! My baby boy is 19 and I so miss those younger years! Each line you wrote about your son brought a smile of endearment. I've got one of those cherry pitters, now I need to make one of those pies!

  10. What a sweet post! Happy Birthday to your son!

  11. Cla, Ro, Sofia - Graaaaazieee!
    Linda - Hi Linda! these years, when the kids are small, are so crazy that we tend to not appreciate them as much as we should. We almost want them to grow up so they learn to do some things alone and we can get a piece of our own lives back. But I know I will miss every minute of them when my kids grow up.
    Peggy - thank you!

  12. Happy belated birthday to your son! This cherry pie sounds divine. I've never had the chance to make one, but I think I'll try it out :D.


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