I can't say I was overly eager to take my first bite of ground cherry pie. Baked this weekend, it still sat carefully wrapped and untouched when I stumbled downstairs for breakfast this morning. The watermelon sorbet had competed for the dessert spot, to be sure.
But at the heart of my neglect was a lingering uncertainty that the tomato-like fruits should be made into pies.
My imagination conjured up the taste of a marinara with whole-wheat crust, more appealing with a dinner fork than a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But with baguettes devoured and watermelon dwindling, my eye settled on it this morning as the perfect answer to breakfast. Feeling courageous, I carefully cut through the lattice and scooped a piece into my bowl.
I noticed immediately the transformation. The once tomatillo-like cherries, after simmering in a bubbling sea of sugar and their own saccharine juices, now appeared more like round bits of candy orange. Soaked in syrup and dripping with shrunken seeds, the tiny mandarin-like pieces looked every bit the part of their cast as pie filling.
I pulled a first bite from my fork, and dug in. A cacophony of pineapple and tomato, cherry and orange erupted inside my mouth, lingering sweet on the tongue and quick to hit the belly. Eager to begin again, I took another bite and then another, devouring the piece in delighted disbelief.
The surprise success made me wish I'd eaten it hot, fresh from the oven with a dab of vanilla ice cream or perhaps a dollop of vanilla whipped cream. It should go within hours: a bowl of shucked cherries, a heap of sugar, a quickly rolled crust and the heat of an oven transforming fruit into delight. Quickly, quickly, the ice cream should melt, just as the sun goes down and a new day begins. Then in the end, it will still be around for a good cold breakfast.
GROUND CHERRY PIE
Makes one pie with lattice top, plus some extra crust
Mix 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons chilled butter; mix well with a pastry cutter. Add 4-5 tablespoons ice cold water until the dough forms a ball. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and roll out dough for crust bottom. Cut off edges and set aside for lattice top.
In a separate bowl, mix 2 and 1/2 cups husked ground cherries with 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and 2 and 1/2 tablespoons flour. Mix well and spoon into crust. Top with woven lattice. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then turn oven to 300 and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until filling sets without burning crust.