Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain ~ 2012 Mens Double Sculls Olympic Gold Medalist Eric Murray quoting Richard M. Nixon.
How good are the Olympics?!
I've stayed up late and got up early just to catch a glimpse of the rowing, swimming, athletics, you name it. I've found myself playing the armchair 3rd umpire, tsk-tsking at the officials making rubbish calls on sports I'd never even watched before in my life. Who knew weightlifting, synchronized diving, gymnastic trampolining and canoe slalom made such great television?
The tears, the controversy, the drama. Gah. Cannot. Stop. Watching.
And in amongst the sporting juggernauts of China, USA and GB, little old New Zealand has had a golden run. Three golds and four bronzes. We are even beating the Aussies. It has been magical to watch these amazing athletes who have dedicated more than a decade of their lives, finally achieving their dreams.
Eric Murray, aged 30, half of the golden double sculls pair with Hamish Bond, spoke about all the set backs and knock downs they had had along the way. He quoted Richard Nixon's "Deepest Valley" quote as giving him inspiration in races. It is truly inspirational the sacrifice these athletes have made. Years of dedication, of unwavering support from their families, of grueling hard work and disappointments, financial setbacks and pressure to deliver.
And it gives me courage. At the ripe old age of 27 and only halfway into a medical degree, having walked away from a career in law, lived apart from my husband for almost two years, fended disbelief and disapproval and struggled with a gargantuan student loan, I've often questioned my sanity and whether I've made the right choice. But these incredibly brave and talented athletes have shown me that sacrifice and belief in oneself does pay off and dreams really do come true.
You could say they are oar-inspiring.
The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you're really tested when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. ~ Richard M. Nixon.
This Sweet Cherry Pie, whilst gorgeous and delicious, really has nothing to do with the Olympics. Unless you count the golden pastry crust or that it's a winner of a recipe.
This recipe was actually a combination of recipes from two of my favourite bloggers: Smitten Kitchen and Pioneer Woman. Both deliver beautiful, delicious, fool proof recipes that never fail to wow a crowd. This Cherry Pie was no exception.
Pioneer Woman's pastry was lovely and flakey and easy enough to make. However, the recipe didn't call for blind baking and I found that the bottom went soggy and was a bit undercooked. Next time I might try blind baking the base for a bit to see if that remedies it. Or do you have any tips, oh guru readers?
I could imagine fresh cherries would taste out of this world in this pie but cherries are out of season so cost an arm and a leg at the moment! Instead, I used canned cherries which were still super yummy and as a bonus they came already de-pipped.
This pie really is spectacular and has enormous wow-factor. The filling is bursting with cherry flavour balanced perfectly by the tartness of lemon. It sets beautifully when cooled and is simply gorgeous on its own or with some greek yoghurt on the side. It is a little bit of a mission to put together though. You have to make the pastry, chill the pastry, make the filling, roll out the pastry, fiddle around with the lattice for the top of the pie...a marathon of a recipe but it's definitely worth the weight.
Sweet Cherry Pie
adapted from recipes from Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen
makes enough pastry for two pies
360g vegetable shortening (like kremelta)
475g plain flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
5 Tablespoon ice cold water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
enough for one 22 cm diameter pie
2 x 425g can pitted cherries ( I will double this next time)
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoon Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch - you can buy this at an asian grocer)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon (~3 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I might leave this out next time)
20 g butter cut into little pieces
1 egg lightly heated mixed with 1 Tablespoon water for egg wash
Extra sugar for sprinkling
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and shortening until it resembles bread crumbs. Add egg, water, vinegar and salt and pulse until just combined.
2. Tip the dough out on to a clean surface. Press into two even balls, flatten a little and then place into separate ziplock bags and seal. Place the dough into the freezer for at least 15-20 minutes to chill. When you are about to make the pie, take the dough out of the freezer and allow to thaw for around 20 minutes.
3. Line a 22cm diameter spring form pan with baking paper. Divide the dough into a 2/3 ball and 1/3 ball. On a clean surface, roll 2/3's of the dough out in between two sheets of baking paper until it's around 0.5 cm thick and at least 10 cm larger in diameter than the pan. Gently press the dough into the lined baking pan gently pressing into the corners. Patch up any gaps with extra dough. Place in the fridge and chill for 15 minutes.
4. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200oC. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice and almond extract, mix gently and allow to sit for 15 minutes. (NB: Next time I think I will blind bake the crust at this point!). Pour filling into your prepared pie crust and spread the cherries out evenly. Evenly distribute the bits of butter over the filling.
5. Roll out the 1/3 ball of dough between two sheets of baking paper until 0.5 cm thick and cut into strips roughly 1 cm wide. Lay out 3-5 strips on top of the filling leaving 1-2 cm spaces in-between. fold back every other strip and place another strip perpendicular to the strips (see below):
6. Unfold the strips over the perpendicular strip. Take the strips that are running underneath the perpendicular strip and fold them up and over the perpendicular strip (see above). Place a second perpendicular strip down and unfold the strips. Continue this until you have a completed weave pattern covering your pie top. Trim and pinch the ends of the strips to the pie crust and crimp the edge of the pie to get a pretty wavy edge. Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle over sugar.
7. Wrap the bottom of your baking tin with tin foil. Bake at 200oC for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven to 180oC and bake for another 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden.
8. Cool completely on a wire rack before turning out to set the juices.