"Diane, if you ever get up this way, that cherry pie is worth a stop."
These past couple of weeks, Thomas and I have been watching old episodes of Twin Peaks. There is something so soothing about re-watching TV shows. It makes me feel safe. Warm, even. I may have trouble watching the same movie twice, but I certainly don't mind sitting through entire series of a variety of TV shows again and again.
I think it's because TV shows require a longer, and stronger, engagement. We choose to watch it not just once, but week after week, episode after episode. We become involved in the story, and as we do, the show nestles itself into our daily life, until it is anchored to it. Whereas movies represent only moments, TV shows can come to represent entire periods of our life. For me, ER will always connect me to my youngest brother, with whom I watched it in our living room when we were kids, and with whom I later shared episodes when both of us were attending college in different cities. Hart of Dixie, in turn, reminds me of the 2 months I spent doing research in the US, of the fantastic air of freedom and possibility, the cute airbnb's and the warm morning runs, while True Blood and The Walking Dead are strongly ingrained in my relationship with Thomas ... the nightly calls we had discussing episodes when we were still living apart and, since then, the moment we take to watch new episodes together.
This is the third time that I'm watching the first season of Twin Peaks. At least, that's what I think. My first memories of the show are vague and tainted by numerous cultural references - glimpses of a few episodes or even only parts of them, secretly seen when I was supposed to be in bed. It's these glimpses that inspired me to buy the DVD-box when I was in college, though, so I could finally watch the show that I felt like I already kind of knew. Even then, despite the mystery and overall eccentricity, Twin Peaks felt familiar. Since seeing all of the episodes as well as the Fire Walk With Me movie, that familiarity has only grown. I know these characters and their story. I know their quirks and their mutual relations and I myself have built a certain, inevitably one-sided, relationship with them. If I'm honest, I think it's always been for the characters that I watched this show.
For Thomas, however, this was a first. He had never seen the series, nor did he have a preconceived idea about it. As a result, he watched it with such different eyes, focusing on the story line and questioning each find, affair and vision, while paying only limited attention to Agent Cooper's idiosyncrasies. It's odd seeing something you know so well through the eyes of someone who's seeing it for the first time. Slightly annoying, but refreshing, too, as it builds on that initial expectation that you might, in the end, solve the mystery. As if you might now see something you originally missed, even when you know very well that there's nothing there. It's nice to see that anticipation in Thomas and watch him wrap his head around all the bizarre things taking place in that little mountain village ... watch him give this show a place in his own life and memories, perhaps. Also, as always, it's a joy to get reacquainted with Cooper's fantastic love for coffee and pie, which is always even bigger than I remember it.
• As I've said before, a good all-butter pie crust requires time and cold. Be sure to freeze the cubed butter a couple of hours before preparing the crust and allow the dough to rest for at least two hours afterwards (preferably overnight). If, at any time during the process, you notice that the butter in the dough starts to melt, return it to the refrigerator for a couple of minutes before continuing.
• This recipe uses a whole wheat pie crust and a walnut crumble topping, adding an almost autumnal sense of warmth to the pie (perfectly in keeping with the weather we're having around here). If you prefer a regular crust, simply substitute the whole wheat flour with the same amount of all-purpose flour. Alternatively, you can also use spelt or rye flour instead of the whole wheat. Since we're using a crumble topping, you'll only need half of the dough. You can easily freeze the second half of the dough for later use - well wrapped, it will keep for a couple of months - or just make a regular latticed pie instead.
• For a crispy bottom, I would advise you to use a metal pie tin.
Vanilla Roasted Cherry Pie
crust adapted from Sweeter Off The Vine, by Yossy Arefi
for one 24 cm/9 inch pie
for the crust (makes enough for a double crusted pie)
170 gr all-purpose flour
170 gr whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
255 gr unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
120 ml (8 tbsp) ice water
for the filling
1 kg cherries, pitted and halved
6 tbsp maple syrup
2 vanilla beans
30 gr unsalted butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
for the crumble
60 gr all-purpose flour
100 gr granulated sugar
40 gr rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
55 gr unsalted butter, cubed
60 gr walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
for the crust
1. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and salt. Add cubed, frozen butter and toss so as to coat each butter cube in flour. With your fingers, a pastry cutter or in a food processor, cut butter into the flour. You want to create flat, thin sheets of butter ranging from the size of oat flakes to the size of peas.
2. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine ice water and vinegar. Sprinkle about 6 tbsp of the liquid onto the butter-flour mixture and gently toss with your fingers or a fork to distribute the water. Keep adding the ice water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together without it falling apart. (I ended up using practically all of the water.)
3. Dump dough out onto a clean work surface and divide into 2 equal parts. Press each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. You will need only one half of the dough for this recipe, so feel free to freeze to second one.
4. When ready to assemble the pie, lightly grease your pie tin and remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle of about 30 cm in diameter and 3 mm in thickness. After every few strokes, lift up the dough and rotate it 45˚. This will ensure you roll it in every direction and that it doesn’t stick to your work surface. Dust with a little extra flour when necessary.
5. Drape dough over your rolling pin and gently lift it from the work surface. Center the dough into the pie tin and use the back of your finger to press it into the border of the tin. Return prepared pie crust to the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
for the filling
1. Preheat oven to 200˚C.
2. In a baking dish large enough to hold all of the cherries in a single layer, combine cherries and maple syrup. Split both vanilla beans in half lengthwise and use the back of your knife to scrape out the seeds. Add both the seeds and the pods to the cherries. Roast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until juicy and fragrant.
3. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the cherries and all of their juices into the sieve. Let sit for a couple of minutes so as to release all of the juices and allow the cherries to cool. The mixture will release about 1/2 cup of liquid.
4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook down the juices together with the butter, until thick and syrupy, about 10-15 minutes. Occasionally swirl the pan around to avoid burning.
5. Meanwhile, remove the vanilla bean pods from the cherries. Stir 1 tbsp of cornstarch into the cherries until all traces of it have disappeared. When syrup is ready, add it to the cherries and stir to combine.
for the crumble
1. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats and salt. Use your fingers to work in the butter, until well-distributed and crumbly.
2. Stir in the walnuts.
1. Preheat oven to 210°C and put a rimmed baking sheet – one that can hold your pie tin – on the lower rack.
2. Remove lined pie tin from the refrigerator and sprinkle the bottom with 1 tbsp of flour and 1 tbsp of sugar. This will bind the juices and protect the bottom from any excess liquid. Trim the edges, leaving a 2-4 cm overhang, fold them over and crimp. Brush the edges with egg wash.
2. Dump cherries into the pie shell and distribute evenly. Sprinkle the crumble on top, making sure to cover all of the cherries.
3. Put the pie onto the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is set and starting to color. Lower the temperature to 190°C and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until crumble and pastry are golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout.
4. Transfer pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.