It’s just the two of us most of the time which means that almost any dessert is too much (except cookies, always cookies). Recently, I had a taste for pie, a freezer full of tart cherries, and this recipe, first printed in WHEN PIES FLY, my 2019 book on pies of all shapes and sizes. The same concept works for blueberries or blackberries, or even diced strawberries, peaches, or plums, but raspberries are too fragile to work with this method. A pie-lette serves up six generous slices or 8 slim slices. It held for 2 days without refrigeration. In other words, the perfect size for two.
One 8-inch free form pie-lette
3 cups (300 g) sour cherries, pitted (can be frozen, do not defrost)
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water and a pinch of salt)
3 tablespoons sparkling or turbinado sugar
Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to form a circle about 10 inches in diameter. Place a pie dish or dinner plate on the dough and use a paring knife or ruffled pastry cutter to cut out a 9 inch disk. Place the disk on the prepared baking sheet. Using a cookie cutter or working freehand with a sharp knife, stamp out some larger and smaller hearts or stars (or both). Place these shapes on the parchment, too. Slide the baking sheet into the freezer (or refrigerator) to chill while making the filling.
Set aside about 20 individual cherries to place inside the crust.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the remaining cherries with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a boi, stirring all the time, and boil for exactly 1 minute. The filling will be stiff and thick. Stir in the almond extract and set aside to cool. To speed the process, spread the filling on a baking sheet or plate and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Working with the chilled dough disk, on top of the dough about 1/2 inch from the edge, line up individual cherries leaving a 1/4 inch space between them. Lift and roll the dough’s edge toward the center, enclosing the cherries. Pinch the dough shut, indenting between each cherry. Slide the dough back into the freezer.
Place a baking steel, pizza stone, or inverted baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
Pile the chilled filling into the center of the stuffed dough disk. Spread it out with an offset spatula until it just touches the edge. Brush the small cut outs with the egg wash and dot the surface decoratively with the shapes. If there is time, chill again for 20 minutes or longer… the colder the pie when it goes in the oven, the more likely it is to retain its shape.
Dab the edge with the egg wash. Sprinkle the entire surface with sparkling sugar. Slide the baking sheet with the pie-lette into the oven. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes.