A Cherry Pie to Agent Cooper’s Liking
Growing up as a child in the 90s in a post-communist South-Eastern European block country, movie ratings didn’t exist and parental guidance was very laid back. Everybody watched everything that was on, simply because something was on.
So yeah, I watched ‘Twin Peaks’ when I was 10 (like almost everyone I know) and I watched it again a couple of years ago and man, was it great! I must say, it still made my heart leap on occasions and I literally jumped off the couch when Bob crept up for the first time on the screen. This series is to this day one of my favourites, like all things David Lynch.
I’m sure most of you have a personal connection with this series, since it’s so powerful that it has left generations with unforgettable imagery and sound. One can easily delve into each and every iconoclastic detail that has marked them. For me, it’s just about everything, from the zig zag floor in the Black Lodge to James’ motorcycle, the wood panelled interior of the Great Northern to Audrey’s cherry trick, the dozens of doughnuts neatly stacked on the conference table at the police station and Agent Cooper’s micro-cassette recorder aka Diane.
And if I’d have to boil the entire Twin Peaks experience down to one culinary piece, it would have to be the Cherry Pie at Norma’s RR Diner and that’s where Agent Dale Cooper regularly eats his slice, accompanied by a cup of coffee.
Many of you might not remember how the series opens; it all actually begins with the Log Lady saying: “Pie. Whoever invented the pie? Here was a great person. In Twin Peaks, we specialize in cherry pie and huckleberry pie. We do have many other types of pie, and at the Double R Diner, Norma knows how to make them all better than anyone I have ever known. (…) I do love Norma’s pies. I love pie with coffee.” Yes, Log Lady, so do we, so do we.
For many years, the idea of the iconic all American pie intrigued me, not knowing what it tastes like and looking like no pie I had ever seen, with its red bubbly juices protruding underneath and alongside the perfectly cut lattice. My first attempt to make such a pie many, many years ago was a fiasco, but the memory of this occasion remains a funny and dear one. I have in time progressed and even though I do not make it very often, this pie is always a welcome delight.
Below is my rendition of the Cherry Pie, although it is in fact a sour cherry pie, as I find them to have superior taste when cooked. I have done my best to refrain myself from attempting to make it sugar and/or gluten free, for the sake of authenticity. As for how far authenticity can go when making a traditional American pie in South-Eastern Europe, I can’t really say; you be the judges.
For the crust:
325g/2 2⁄3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
250g/18 Tblsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
90ml/6 Tblsp ice water
Egg-wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten
Organic golden granulated sugar, for sprinkling (any other granulated sugar will do)
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. With the aid of your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut in half of the butter until it becomes the size of peas, then cut in the other half until it becomes the size of beans. Some of the butter won’t be completely worked into the flour, that’s how it should be. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix in the 6 Tblsp of water into the flour until combined. Add more water only if the dough seems very dry. Squeeze the dough together with your hands, pressing it. Split it in half, form into two discs and wrap each one in plastic film. Chill the dough overnight (best) or for at least one hour before using.
For the filling:
200g/1 cup organic golden granulated sugar (any other granulated kind will do)
45g/3 Tblsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1kg/2 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted
30g/2 Tblsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon. With the aid of your fingertips, rub vanilla seeds into sugar mixture. Add sour cherries and give everything a nice toss.
Assembling the pie:
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one disc of dough to 3mm/1/8 in thick. Cut out a 30cm/11 in round, and fit into a 20cm/9 in pie plate. Refrigerate crust while you prepare the lattice strips. To make the lattice strips, roll the second disc of dough on a floured piece of parchment paper until 3mm/1/8 in thick. With the aid of a ruler, cut 8 strips (each of about 25cm/10in long and 4cm/1.5 in wide) with a fluted pastry wheel or a very sharp knife. Refrigerate on the parchment paper for 10 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Remove the pie plate from the fridge, pour cherry mixture inside, then evenly distribute the butter on top. Lightly brush exposed edge of crust with egg-wash. Lay 4 lattice strips across pie. Fold back every other strip, then lay another strip perpendicular in the centre of pie. Unfold the strips over the perpendicular strip. Fold back the strips that are under the perpendicular strip. Lay a second perpendicular strip next to the first. Unfold the strips over the second perpendicular strip. Repeat, weaving strips across half the pie. Trim strips flush with rim or make sure to tuck the extra dough under the rim of crust, then crimp with the back of a fork to seal. Brush lattice with egg wash, sprinkle with a little bit of sugar. Pop in the oven for about 60-80 minutes. Start checking after the first 30 minutes and if the top starts to brown, cover with aluminium foil. The pie is done when it’s golden brown and juices are bubbling.