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Swiss Cherry Pie: A Sweet Slice of Alpine Delight

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Switzerland, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, also boasts a diverse culinary tradition that blends local flavors with global influences. Swiss cuisine is known for its hearty dishes and indulgent desserts, often showcasing seasonal fruits and regional specialties. Among these delights, Swiss Cherry Pie stands out as a beloved treat, combining tart cherries with a buttery crust to create a dessert that captures the essence of Swiss alpine charm.

Background and Origin

Cherries have long been celebrated in Swiss cuisine, particularly in the regions where cherry orchards flourish. Swiss Cherry Pie, known locally as “Kirschenwähe” in German-speaking areas and “Tarte aux cerises” in French-speaking regions, has its roots in traditional Swiss baking. This pie traditionally features a flaky, buttery crust filled with fresh or preserved cherries, offering a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors that are quintessentially Swiss.

Ingredients

The ingredients for Swiss Cherry Pie typically include:

For the Crust:

  • Flour: 2 cups of all-purpose flour.
  • Butter: 1/2 cup of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes.
  • Sugar: 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
  • Salt: 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • Ice Water: 4-6 tablespoons of ice water.

For the Filling:

  • Cherries: 4 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and halved (or 2 cans (15 ounces each) of pitted tart cherries, drained).
  • Sugar: 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.
  • Cornstarch: 3 tablespoons.
  • Almond Extract: 1/2 teaspoon (optional, for added flavor).
  • Lemon Zest: Zest of 1 lemon.
  • Butter: 1 tablespoon, cut into small pieces (for dotting on top).

Recipe

Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Cut in Butter: Add the cold butter cubes to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea-sized pieces of butter.
  3. Add Water: Gradually add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
  4. Form Dough: Gather the dough into a ball, divide it into two equal portions, and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm.

Step 2: Prepare the Filling

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well (this helps to ensure a crisp bottom crust).
  2. Mix Filling: In a large bowl, combine the pitted and halved cherries (or drained canned cherries), sugar, cornstarch, almond extract (if using), and lemon zest. Toss gently to coat the cherries evenly.

Step 3: Assemble and Bake the Pie

  1. Roll Out Dough: On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer it to a 9-inch pie dish, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides.
  2. Add Filling: Spoon the cherry filling into the prepared pie crust, spreading it out evenly.
  3. Dot with Butter: Dot the filling with small pieces of butter.
  4. Roll Out and Cover: Roll out the second disk of dough into a similar-sized circle and place it over the filling. Trim any excess dough hanging over the edges, then crimp the edges to seal. Cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake: Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. If the edges of the crust begin to brown too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.
  6. Cool and Serve: Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving. This allows the filling to set.

Serving Suggestions

  • Whipped Cream: Serve slices of Swiss Cherry Pie with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgent treat.
  • Coffee or Tea: Enjoy a slice alongside a hot cup of coffee or tea, embracing the cozy ambiance of Swiss cafes.

Conclusion

Swiss Cherry Pie is a delightful representation of Swiss culinary craftsmanship, blending the sweetness of cherries with the buttery richness of a flaky crust. Whether enjoyed as a dessert after a hearty Swiss meal or as a centerpiece for a festive occasion, this pie embodies the warmth and charm of Swiss hospitality. Embrace the flavors of Swiss Cherry Pie and savor each bite as a tribute to the seasonal abundance and culinary heritage of Switzerland.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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