What’s summer without a summer BBQ? (For those who don’t like the rhetorical question game the actual answer is it’s still summer.) I live in NYC where having any outdoor space is a luxury. We are lucky enough to have a tiny little outdoor space, and we decided to have a BBQ a few weeks ago. When I say tiny, I mean it’s big enough for a small charcoal grill and about five people to stand around. (That’s not tiny by NYC standards, just tiny in actuality.) We invited what we thought was just a few friends over. However, once all the dust had cleared from the RSVPs, we realized it was going to be like 25 people or so. I had already decided I was going to make dessert, but I soon realized I needed to make two or three.
Since we were going to have a crowd, I wanted to make something big that would serve a lot of people. I remember reading on smitten kitchen about slab pie and thought that would be a great idea. Apple was the one I had seen, but that seemed a little too fall. I wanted something more summer and found this recipe for sour cherry slab pie. Perfect. It’s big (feeds 20 or so people) and it’s summery. It uses her regular pie crust but about 1 1/2 times the amount. I’ve made that pie crust a bunch of times now. It’s pretty easy, and I know it’s good. I thought, this should be a piece of cake. Er, pie.
I started prepping the pie on the Tuesday night before the Saturday party. I gathered the ingredients and went at it. As usual, there wasn’t much to it. Although since it was 1 1/2 times the amount of dough, it did take a little while to blend all the butter in with the pastry blender. And it did take a little while mixing in the water, incorporating all the ingredients, and getting it dough like. It wasn’t hard. It was just a little bit of work. My arms got a little tired. Which makes me wonder if everyone who made food before we had modern kitchen appliances was as strong as an ox.
Once it was all done I laid out some plastic wrap, split the dough in two, smooshed it roughly into rectangles (as requested by the recipe), and put it in the fridge. Making the rest of the pie would have to wait for another night. I aimed for Thursday.
Thursday night, the making of the pie continued. I started late in the evening. (There’s something fun about night baking.) I cleared off the counter and pulled out the ingredients. Since I used frozen cherries (I know what you’re thinking, but it was easier than pitting them, sorry!), I remembered to defrost them the night before. I then had to drain them before using. I measured them out. The recipe called for 6 cups pitted, but these were already pitted, and once I drained them it ended up being less than 6 cups. I think it was okay because my pie looked about as filled as hers did.
There was a range of sugar in the recipe. I used one cup. (These cherries weren’t sour, so maybe not as much sugar would be needed, but also her pie was very lightly sweetened, and I wanted it to be a little sweeter than that.) I mixed up the filling and set it aside.
I rolled out the first piece of dough. It was not an inconsequential task. I’ve learned a little how to roll out dough. (Thank you smitten kitchen!) I remembered to use a lot of flour. I’m not so sure it was even. It was decent, but it was a little thin in places and I had to patch it a bit once I put it on the parchment lined baking sheet. I actually had to purchase a new baking sheet for this recipe. I needed a new one anyway, as one had recently gone to that great kitchen cabinet in the sky, and since I didn’t have one this size (15x10x1), I got one.
I poured in the mixture and spread it around a bit to make it even. Then I rolled out the second piece of dough. It wasn’t big enough at first, so I rolled it out more, but then it was too big. So I smooshed it back into a ball and rolled it out again. This time was easier. I think it was still a little bit too big, but it was okay.
I placed it on top. Moving the dough both times was a challenge because they were very big pieces of dough. Both times they stretched and ripped a little. Also finding a spot to move the baking sheet to while I was working on the dough took some finagling. (We were kinda out of space, especially with all the party goods lined up.)
I folded the crust over and sealed it up. At this point I saw some of the filling was leaking out a little bit. The bottom piece of dough was maybe a little too thin in spots. I pinched it closed. I pulled off a little of the extra dough from the top to help seal it. As instructed, I poked holes in the top with a fork. I brushed it with cream. It didn’t call for much, but I didn’t waste the rest. I needed it for another recipe. (You’ll hear about that next week.) I put it in the oven for 40 minutes to see if that was long enough.
After 40 minutes it was done. When I had checked on it about half way through, I noticed it was a little poofy in one spot. When it was done, it was all kinds of poofy. (Poofy is an industry term.) It was definitely brown and the juices were bubbling. So much so that some of them had spilled out into the oven. I think maybe the crust on the top was too thick or the one on the bottom was too thin. But it looked really nice. And it smelled good too. Not overly like cherries, mostly just crust which smelled and looked delicious. I put it on a wire rack to cool.
I decided to do the glaze closer to the time. The morning of the BBQ to be exact. There were some options for how to make it. For mine I mixed 1 tbsp water and 1 tbsp lemon juice with the powdered sugar. It looked nice with the glaze on.
And now for the question on everyone’s mind: how was it? It was dee-licious. (So delicious, it required an extra “e” and a hyphen in the word.) It had a good flavor. And the glaze was a nice complement. There was lots of dough, which was to be expected because the recipe describes it as having 150% of the dough with 100% of the filling. My wife said the slices of pie were like open-ended pop tarts, which is an excellent description.
As it turned out, there were many yummy desserts at the BBQ. Other people brought some great dishes. And the other recipe I made kinda stole the show. (You’ll hear about that next week.) So with a pie this big, there was definitely some left over. There were no complaints here! We were happy to have more of the pie around to savor.
I have to say, in prepping for the BBQ we learned a lot about food planning and scaling. I have much appreciation for those who do this on a regular basis. And I got some more practice in making large amounts of dessert. But I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m sure many of you have made large amounts of dessert? How do you do it? One large dessert? One small dessert scaled up? Multiple desserts? I’d love to hear your large party dessert secrets, if you’re willing to share.
Recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen.