I am just going to say this once, birthday pie puts birthday cake to shame. Cake is sweet and predictable, but pie; pie is the sultry seductive mistress of desserts. No question. My husband’s birthday is August 21st and therefore in the middle of hottest pie baking season. Lucky for me, he is a bigger pie fan than I. And lucky for him, I am big fan of baking summer pies. Last year I made him a boozy bourbon cherry pie for his birthday, oh yeahhhh. This year, I sexed up some old recipes and came up with a seductive new pie recipe, just for him. After a ménage à trois of cherries, berries and pinot noir, the Cherry Berry Pinot Pie was born.
I tenderly tossed cherries, blueberries and raspberries with a cup of sugar and then soaked them in a luxurious bath of Oregon Pinot Noir. The cherries, berries and I drank up the sweet berry wine for about an hour, and then I drained the juices of the swollen fruit into a saucepan. The pinot juice slowly simmered and reduced down to a thick and rich jammy syrup. I then mixed the red hot syrup back into the berries and added some tapioca to soak up all that sexy sweetness.
Instead of cheesing up the pie with waxy birthday candles, I uninhibitedly cut a candle shaped slit in the top to let out all that hot steam that bubbled up while it baked in the oven.
The birthday man was quite taken with his punch drunk pie and I think it may have quickly shot to the top of his birthday pie chart. Cake is cute but pie is pure passion.
A seductively sweet pie made from a ménage à trois of cherries, berries and pinot noir.
- All Butter Vodka Pie Crust
- all purpose flour - 2.5 cups
- unsalted butter, cut into small pieces - 1 cup
- granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons
- salt - 2 teaspoons
- ice cold vodka - 1/4 cup
- ice cold water - 2-4 tablespoons
- Cherry Berry Pinot Pie Filling
- fresh cherries, pitted - 3 cups
- fresh blueberries - 3 cups
- fresh raspberries - 2 cups
- pinot noir - 1 cup
- granulated sugar - 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- quick cooking tapioca - 1/4 cup
- salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- unsalted butter, cut into small pieces - 2 tablespoons
- Egg Wash
- egg - 1
- salt - a pinch
- water - 1 tablespoon
- sanding sugar - 2 tablespoons
Preparing the dough:
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a metal or ceramic mixing bowl with high sides. Chill for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. Blend the cold butter cubes into the chilled ingredients using a pastry blender or the butter knife method. Stop mixing when the texture of the flour changes from silky to mealy; this should only take a few minutes. Don’t worry if a few larger chunks of butter remain.
Make a well in the flour mixture and drizzle the vodka and in while gently mixing with a fork. Slowly add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Check the hydration of the dough between each addition of water by gathering a small fistful; if it holds together, it’s ready. If it is dry or crumbly, slowly add the remaining water, testing the dough by pinching it occasionally.
Be careful to add only as much water as it takes to combine the dough into a ball or disk. The exact amount of water can vary depending upon the moisture content of the flour, the quality of the butter, and the weather. When it has the proper amount of water, the dough will come together without much effort or deliberate packing. If you need to add more water, make sure the ingredients are still cold.
Form the dough into two disks and wrap them in plastic. Chill for at least 1-2 hours before rolling and forming.
Preheat oven to 400°. On a well-floured counter, roll one pie dough disk into a 12 inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9 inch pie plate. I usually roll my dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll it over the pie plate. Chill the pie shell at least 20-30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Preparing the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherries, berries and 1/2 cup sugar; mix well.
Add in the wine and mix again; set aside for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Strain off all the juice and transfer strained juice to a saucepan; bring to a boil.
Continue to boil gently until the juice begins to thicken and has reduced to 1/2 to 2/3 cup.
Pour reduced juice, which should now resemble a thick fruit syrup, back over the fruit and mix well.
Mix the tapioca, salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Then add to the filling.
Turn the filling into the chilled pie crust; dot the top with butter.
Finishing off the pie:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Cover the pie with your upper crust. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 1/2 - 1 inch. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.
Chill the pie for 20 minutes.
Transfer pie to a baking sheet.
Prepare the egg wash by mixing the egg, salt and water in a small bowl. Lightly brush the mixture over dough. Sprinkle with raw sanding sugar.
Cover the edges with tin foil to prevent over-browning.
Bake for 20 minutes on 400° then reduce temperature to 350° and remove tin foil around edges. Bake for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cool (several hours later) the juices gel.
*Pie should keep for up to three days at room temperature.
*Anytime I make pie, I like to make an extra batch of dough to store in the freezer so it is ready to go the next time I feel inspired to bake a pie. Which usually ends up being a few days later.