The Sauce: Fresh Cherry Pie Filling – Pit your own cherries, add lemon juice, sugar, arrowroot and a pinch of salt and stir. The juices start to flow. Once baked, it thickens into transparent red cherry filling.
‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’
Giant pop tart
Combine the Silver Spring Farmers Market plus a perfect weather morning for a not-to-be-missed outing with Audrey. Let’s see, we bought fresh green beans, finger zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, crab cakes, Maryland crab dip, garlic scape pesto plus an artisan rosemary french bread and a whole-grain mini loaf. This makes me joyful.
The piece de resistance is a basket of fresh sour cherries. I asked the farmer how to pit them. He said, “I just grow and harvest the cherries. My family bakes them into pies. Customers tell me you poke the pit out with a straw so give it a try.” These cherries were headed for a slab pie so I decided to learn how to pit them. I have some plastic on-the-rocks stirring straws that should be small enough to drive through the cherries pushing out the pit without damaging the beautiful berries. Turns out straws work very well. In about 7 or 8 minutes I was able to pit 3 cups of cherries.
This slab pie, made popular by Martha Stewart, has been around a long time. Recently we had a guest for dinner when serving a mixed berry version. When I announced it was Berry Slab Pie, she said, “My mom’s been making this for years to feed a crowd but we never called it slab pie.”
What’s the genius of this pie? Like a giant pop tart, it’s a cross between a regular round pie and an individual hand pie. For those of us that love more crust to filling ratio than a pie but don’t have the time to make individual rolled pies, this is it!!
Recipe: Cherry Slab Pie
Prep Time: 40 Min | Inactive Time: 45 Min | Cook Time: 50 Minutes | Yield: 12 Servings | Level: Moderate
- 4 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups shortening
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 cold water
- 4 cups fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup arrowroot
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp cream
- 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Special Equipment – 9×12 baking sheet
1 Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in shortening until a pea size crumble.
2 Whisk together 1 egg, vinegar and water beating until egg is just combined. Add to the flour mixture and combine but don’t over work. Divide the dough in about half, one slightly larger than the other, and form a rectangle with both. Wrap them in plastic and chill for 45-60 minutes.
Fresh Cherry Pie Filling
3 Meanwhile combine cherries, lemon juice, granulated sugar, arrowroot and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4 Beat 1 egg with cream and set aside.
5 Place the bottom rack of the oven on the second lowest position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6 Take the larger dough rectangle out of the fridge and roll out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until it is approximately 14 by 17 inches. It may have some ragged edges but there should be enough dough to piece together any open places. Pull off the top plastic wrap, flip over and roll the dough onto a rolling pin.
9 Take the other dough rectangle out of the fridge and roll out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap until it is approximately 10 by 13 inches. Using a dough scraper or knife, cut a 9×12 rectangle. Pull off the top plastic wrap, flip over and roll the dough onto a rolling pin. Unroll over the pan centering into place. Pull off the other plastic wrap.
10 Fold over the extra pie pastry of the bottom crust onto the top dough. Leave it ragged and rustic or trim to create a straight edge. The edge could also be finger-crimped or fork-tine pinched. Cut slits to vent the crust. Brush egg wash over the pie pastry. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
11 Bake at 375 degrees on the bottom rack of the oven placed in the second from the bottom position until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes or more. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Shortening holds the structure of the pie pastry better than butter, especially when rolling the dough. Butter flavored shortening improves the taste of the pastry. It also melts at a higher temperature which changes the texture of the crust. The egg in the dough adds richness the shortening lacks. Cider vinegar increases flakiness.
Make the pie pastry the day before and chill over night.
Using plastic wrap on both the top and bottom of the pastry while rolling is essential. The sheer size of the crust means handling will be more difficult than a 9-inch round typically used for a pie. With the plastic, it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface, it is very easy to transport to the pan and can be easily pulled away as the dough is put in place.
Arrowroot is a thickening agent used in berry desserts because it cooks up more transparent than cornstarch. Cornstarch can be substituted one for one and is fairly transparent.
Placing the rack on the second from the bottom shelf helps to ensure the bottom crust gets browned.
Serve this slab pie at a picnic or family reunion.
Once completely cool it can be cut in squares and eaten like a hand pie.
- Exchange cider for white vinegar.
- Exchange sour cherries for raspberries, blueberries or mixed berries.
- Exchange arrowroot for cornstarch.
- Exchange cream for milk.
- Exchange turbinado for sanding sugar or granulated sugar.
Inspiration – Martha Stewart
Cook with Sauces
Cherry Slab Pie
Written by Helen Horton
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: July 24, 2013