Monday, November 21, 2011

Cherry Pie and Other Sweetness

When Lila was just 3 weeks old, my mother and I decided to take an afternoon off from the 24/7 care that a newborn needs. Both of us love to cook and bake, and we both are lifelong students who enjoy learning new things. Fighting our sleep deprivation and exhaustion, we left the babe in her dad's expert care along with a bottle of expressed breast milk and spent a lovely Sunday afternoon taking a pie making class at a local cooking school called the Kitchen Conservatory.

I thought the class would be a fun way to have my mother taste some all American flavors like cranberry and maple and indeed it was. I've made pie many times but there was much to learn that afternoon. We did a hands-on class under the skillful guidance of Anne Cori who has a reputation for being a "pie whisperer". I've only ever made all-butter pie crusts but tasting different crusts side by side, I concluded that a half-butter half-shortening crust is terrific- it tastes great and is so flaky that it shatters under the fork and melts in the mouth. Anne reminded us that pie dough needs to be made with a very gentle hand and handled as minimally as possible, and that cold dough and a hot oven makes for a great crust. After we got home with recipes and notes, my mother wanted to practice making pie- like I said, she is a lifelong student and takes learning very seriously. So we made this cherry pie- my first double crust pie.

There's nothing quite as American as pie, so it is only fitting that I should send this post to Sreelu to celebrate Vegetarian Thanksgiving, as part of the healing foods series. What could be more healing to the soul than friends and family gathered together over good homemade food?

Cherry Pie
(Adapted from a recipe by Anne Cori of Kitchen Conservatory)


Pie Crust
  1. Mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. salt and 2 tbsp. sugar
  2. Use a pastry blender to cut in 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter into the flour. 
  3. Then cut in 8 tbsp. shortening. I used no-trans-fat shortening from Crisco that is sold in the form of sticks. 
  4. Add just enough ice water to moisten the dough so that it comes together when you pinch a small portion. 
  5. Collect the dough roughly in a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Filling
  1. Thaw about 2 cups frozen cherries. Halve/quarter them and let them sit in a colander for an hour or two to drain away excess juice. 
  2. Place the cherries in a bowl and mix with 1/2 cup sugar (or more depending on the sweetness of the cherries and on the level of sweetness you prefer), 3 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tbsp. rum

Baking the pie
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Divide the pie dough into two portions. Roll one half to fit the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate. 
  3. Pour in the filling. Dot with a few small cubes of butter.
  4. Cover with the other half of the rolled dough. Crimp the edges well to seal the two halves of the dough together. 
  5. Cut small slits in the dough to let the steam escape while baking. 
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the juices inside the pie are thick and bubbling.
Oh, this pie right out of the oven was such a treat- we made it at tea time and kept slicing slivers off "just to taste" all evening before officially eating the pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. My parents enjoyed  it very much.

To all those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I have much to be thankful for in general, and this year in particular, V and I are grateful beyond words for our precious baby daughter. Lila is cuddled up with me in a ring sling and napping peacefully as I type this post. Dale says he is grateful that the baby has stopped wailing much at night, it was wrecking his beauty sleep.

We are planning a quiet Thanksgiving feast with friends who have a son just a week older than Lila. The plan is to cook together, eat early and enjoy our new babies. Here's the menu I am thinking of making: broccoli cheddar soup, vegetable biryani, carrot-radish-cucumber raita, sweet potato fries and chocolate pecan pie for dessert.

As always, I am thankful for my blog and all of you who take the time to read it and be a part of my life. The food is in the form of pixels and the words come from  keystrokes, but there is nothing virtual about the friendships that develop here- they are warm and deep and very real.

I'll leave you with some more sweetness- pictures of a chocolate cake I baked this weekend to celebrate Lila's 2 month birthday. It is a one bowl chocolate cake, and I used the adaptation for natural (non-Dutched) cocoa. Instead of a loaf pan, I used an 8 inch cake pan and it worked well, yielding a tall festive cake. I was on a tight schedule so instead of frosting, the cake got a simple shower of powdered sugar (using a tea strainer). And I decorated the edges with some apple roses and mint leaves. 



37 comments:

  1. Wishing you Nupur and your beautiful family a Happy Thankgsgiving too! I thankful for the hard work and creativity you put into this blog, and by which I have come to know you and learn so many new dishes. Reading new things about baby Lila is so wonderful and our faithful Dale always brings a smile with his antics :)

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  2. I love your thanksgiving menus (all ur menus really) they are genius (to me atleast) with how you mix Indian and Western food.
    I am bookmarking this one for my next thanksgiving - I love the simple ones. I used to make up and cook elaborate menus and loved it. But now that I have a 1 year old who wants to "help" all the time, my cooking has been ultrasimplified by necessity.
    Have a wonderful thanksgiving with your friends and family and big hugs to your big little blessing.

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  3. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Nupur!

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  4. The cake looks awesome Nupur.
    Which sling do you use and recommend? I would love to know. Also, after researching and going back and forth, I have finally decided to cloth diaper my baby, and its been like almost 2 months since I am cloth diapering my baby and totally loving it. Just google cloth diapers and get ready to get amazed at the variety available in the market. Just thought of sharing with you.

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  5. Cake looks so pretty with minimal decorations and the cherry pie looks great too.

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  6. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Nupur. Pie baking class sounds awesome and that cherry pie looks yummy, never tried cherry pie before..
    Very simple and filling thanksgiving menu -- exactly what you need with a infant at home.. Enjoy your time with friends and family.. lots of love to Lila.

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  7. Nupur, thank you so much for your entry. Nothing says thanks giving like cherry pie. Hope the lil doll is doing good and keeping you busy.

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  8. The Thanksgiving Dinner plan sounds wonderful - I have come to appreciate the friends with kids of similar age I now have - they are such a support in times of illness and such a source of joy when you get to do things together with the kids - picnics, holidays, brunches,play dates, sleepovers, emergency babysitting - makes life so much easier when you have someone to share.
    The chocolate cake is beautiful - kudos for carving out time to spend with Mum and to celebrate Lila's two months with you :-) and kudos to V for being a hands on Dad - I made sure I never called it "babysitting" when Hubby is in charge of K, after all he is a parent, babysitting is what people other than parents do ;-) Im glad you didnt use the word too :)

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  9. Cake looks awesome I am sure going to try it. And all the best to little Lila

    AA_Mom

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  10. When I read your blog title, I thought the "other sweetness" would be pictures of Lila. I was disappointed not to see any baby cuteness, but I understand why you wouldn't want to put photos on the blog.

    The pie and the cake look yummylicious.

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  11. This looks beautiful Nupur...Enjoy your Thanksgiving...Those apple roses look adorable...

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  12. Happy Thanksgivine to you and your family, cherry pie looks absolutely inviting and prefect..

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  13. wishing you a lovely time with family at thanksgiving. i for one am so grateful i found your blog!

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  14. love to see your post nupur, lila is already 2 months old, time flies quick right ?, Enjoy every bit of these early years with her, I missed a lot and I regret now.., I have never done a thanksgiving day at all, reading your post I felt I want to do it too.., Yes thanks to the good Lord for giving us what we need.., Thanking mum who has come all the way to help you out and the apple of your eye, who has made life much more blissful, Oh! I do understand I miss my Mom she is in Bangalore, wouldn't want to come as is so cold here.., your menu is so simple and elegent, the cherrie pie is calling for me to bake it.., and your one bowl chocolate too.. with those beautiful apple flowers, they look gorgeous dear, how did you find time and energy to do it.., My hearty blessings to your lovely little angel and wishes to your family too.., Have a wonderful thanksgiving day and enjoy..., Please do visit my blog when you have time..,

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  15. Oh, look at those loverly apple roses! Perfect cake for a little girl!

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  16. Wow - you are an impressive new-mom! Love, love the apple roses on the cake! Peeled apple?
    what a nice mom-daughter time you had at the pie-class.
    Have fun, Nupur!

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  17. You inspire me in more ways than one. How do you find the time and energy to do all this...I love you SuperMom!!! :)
    The pie, the cake with apple roses and the Thanksgiving menu all seem wonderful. I was hoping to see a picture of Lila when I read, "I'll leave you with some more sweetness" but I can understand that we'll have to wait a while for another pic. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones! Happy Holidays!!!

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  18. Hooray for taking time to do something non-baby! And oh, your daughter is going to have so much fun when she starts solids.

    OMG PIE! I love the combination of tart fruit and sweet pastry, and pie is king; cherry pie is the Grand Emperor of Piedom.

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  19. Happy 2 month b'day to dear Lila!! What a beautiful pie! and what a lovely way to spend a day, mom and daughter pie making class! Maybe when Lila is ur age , u both will do something like this:)

    The chocolate cake looks gorgeous with the apple-rose decoration.

    I am glad Dale gets his beauty sleep, A baby changes everything, even for my hero! squeezes for Dalu dada- even if he does not like them!
    Hope u all have a wonderful thanksgiving party, the menu sounds awesome.

    We will be settling n our new apartment - getting the keys today!

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  20. Reading your blog always makes me so hungry! Congratulations to Ms. Lila on 2 months. :) It sounds like you and your mom had a great time at the baking class. It's always nice to learn new things, isn't it? Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Holly

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  21. Both the cake and the pie looks amazing. Lovely decorations.

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  22. Tell a big hello to your mom Nupur. That pie is looking delicious and absolutely awesome. May be I will try my hand at making it this Thanksgiving.

    Lovely chocolate cake that baby Lila shared with the adults generously :) She is two months already? Time just flies.

    And a Very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

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  23. Hi Nupur,

    Great way to take a 24/7 baby care :) Thanks for the recipe, will try soon... enjoy your mommy time

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  24. Hey Nupur,

    That chocolate cake looks beautiful. I'd hate to cut it up, but that won't satisfy the chocolate craving. If you're a chocolate junkie like me, Joy of Baking has an easy peasy one bowl chocolate cake and it's eggless too. All it needs is a simple ganache frosting and I'm sure it will taste good sans frosting.

    I have been following your blog for a long time now and you're the inspiration I needed to start a blog of my own.

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  25. Both you and your Mom are super. How exciting to go for a Mother-Daughter class. The cake looks awesome.

    A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and lots of love for Lila.

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  26. Namita- What a nice thing to say! I'll have to feature Dale in a post soon, these days Lila is hogging the limelight :)

    Priya- Thank you! I do enjoy mixing Indian and Western dishes, because both my Indian and non-Indian friends love Indian food :) and I also want to try other things so this way everyone is happy. And I agree, these days I prefer simpler menus too and you know what, they are just as delicious as elaborate ones but much less stress.

    Manju- Thank you and wish you the same!

    Mona- I bought a local sling called the slingaroo. Here is the link:
    http://kangarookidsonline.com/sling-demo

    And we love cloth diapers too :) I use this local service:
    http://www.babycarediaper.com/

    Divya Vikram- Thank you!

    Pavani- I don't remember trying cherry pie before too, but it is so delicious and really worth a taste!

    Sreelu- Thanks for hosting and I am excited to see the round up!

    Miri- LOL yes, you don't get to baby sit your own child, it is a 24/7 job like it or not :) We all have been making time to do lots of things other than baby rearing, so important otherwise we would feel overwhelmed.

    AA_Mom- The cake is definitely worth a try!

    affiknity- Thanks :) yes, I am a little wary of posting baby pics online.

    Arch- Thank you! The apple roses are so easy to make and they do look sweet.

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  27. No fair - two cakes, and no pics of Lila? "Other sweetness" had me tricked there.
    Good to see you are not totally submerged in the feeding and sleep deprivation. And yay cloth diapering.
    Happy Thanksgiving - it's 11 pm and only after reading your post did I realize that today is Thanksgiving in the US!! The pie and cake look delicious.
    Listen, when Lila is 6 months+ you should do a series on interesting baby foods!

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  28. Wishing you and your family a very wonderful Thanksgiving Nupur. Loved your posts and both the pie and the cake look slurrrrrppp delicious :-)

    Enjoy
    Meena

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  29. that cake looks absolutely awesome... i love the cute apple roses... such a creative idea.. the pie looks scrumptious too... happy 2 month birthday to little Lila :)

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  30. What fun to have gone for a baking class with your mom. The pie looks delicious and I love the chocolate cake too. The decoration is so pretty.

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  31. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Nupur. Love to Lila!

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  32. Wonderful pie and oh such beautiful apple roses, would love to make those sometime. Kudos to you on making time to do all this and blog about it with an infant on hand!

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  33. A belated welcome to the world of new motherhood! Our little guy was born just before you announced your pregnancy, and I'm just now (4 1/2 months later!) really getting back up to speed with blogs I followed before.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Your plans sounded ambitious -- we were happy to let relatives do almost all of the cooking this year.

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  34. Nupur, your enthusiasm towards constant learning with your mum is really admirable... makes me miss my mum again!

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  35. Hi,

    That sure looks delicious. Congrats on your new baby. I appreciate your interest in creating good recipes, even though you must be busy with a child!.
    Lovely blog with beautiful pictures.

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  36. Prachi- Baby foods- yes! We are a few months away from trying table food but I am excited at the prospect of Lila getting to eat something other than mama milk.

    Meena- Thank you!!

    Sarah- Lila says thanks :)

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  37. Asmita- Thank you!

    Mandira- Our Thanksgiving was lovely, 2 couples celebrating our new babies together- hope yours was great too.

    Rashmi B- Well when I was baking both grandparents were on hand for baby sitting :)

    Melissa- Thank you so much! I'm loving your post baby posts.

    killer on the plate- Aww!

    gardenat60- Thank you so much!

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