There are traditional meals that are not necessarily everyday occurrences. The English ‘Elevenses’ fits into this category. So does the Hungarian ‘a Tizórai’–or, ‘Ten o’Clocks’, which, like ‘Elevenses’, occurs between breakfast and lunch. But if a tradition does not an entitlement make, it is nevertheless a good excuse to translate an unorthodox hour for eating into an occasion, invite some friends and have more-than-a-little-something together.
The diplomatickitchen’s version of ‘Ten o’Clocks’ begins with Hungarian Sour Cherry-Cream Pie. In Hungarian, this dessert is called ‘a Lepény’, or ‘pie’…and indeed, the fundamental elements of ‘pie’ are all here. There is a filling (counterpoising sour cherries and a vanilla pastry cream, both sweetened with restraint) and the filling is baked between two fine-textured layers of pastry. At the same time, the pastry for the almond crust almost has the consistency of a batter before it is chilled, and once baked, it looks something like a cake Furthermore, after sampling this pie, some people will persist in calling it cake.
But unless you are a stickler for translation, it really doesn’t matter whether Meggyes-krémes lepény is a subtle rendition of ‘pie’ or not. It is, in any case, a very good use for sour cherries.
A Note about Preparation Time: Allow about 1 hour for chilling the pastry dough.
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- 100 grams of Butter, (3 and 1/2 ounces), plus some more to grease the pan and the sheet of parchment paper used to chill the top crust, and some more to butter your fingers as you work with the pastry dough
- 40 grams of Ground Almonds (3/4 cups, minus 3 Tablespoons)
- 100 grams of fine White Pastry Flour….regular White Unbleached Flour will be fine, too (1/2 cup, plus 1/8 cup, plus 1 teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon of Kirsch or Rum
- 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
- 2 Eggs
- 100 grams of granulated Sugar (1 cup, minus 2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons of Vanilla
- 200 milliliters of Milk (7 ounces or a scant 1 cup)
- 2 Egg Yolks; (A suggestion: Freeze the Whites and use them later to make Meringues or a Meringue topping for a pie…1 egg white = about 38 grams.)
- 2 Tablespoons of granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon of Cornstarch
- about 1 cup of bottled or canned pitted Sour Cherries in light syrup, drained and patted dry, plus about another 1/2 cup to decorate the top of the baked pie with cherries, and place a few more on the individual slices or on the dessert plates at the side of each slice. Cherries bottled in glass jars, like the ones pictured, often are of a better quality than canned ones.
- a couple of Tablespoons of Powdered Sugar
- a Tablespoon or two of thin-sliced, toasted Almonds
- a Springform Pan, measuring about 21 centimeters across the bottom ( or about 8 and 1/2 inches)
- a piece of Parchment Paper to line the pan
- another sheet of Parchment Paper on which to chill the top crust and a Baking Pan on which to place the Paper and crust while the crust chills
- a medium-sized Frying Pan
- 2 Bowls
- a Mixer, hand or standing–whichever you find more convenient
- a heavy-bottomed Saucepan
- a Whisk
- a Pizza Cutter or Knife
- a broad Spatula
- a small Strainer
I. Making the Pastry Crust:
1. Butter the bottom and sides of the springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Cut another sheet of parchment slightly bigger than the bottom of the springform pan. Place the pan on it and trace around it with a pencil. Butter the traced circle and place the sheet on a small baking pan that will fit in the freezer. Set aside both the springform pan and the sheet of buttered paper.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
4. Mix in the Kirsch (or rum) and the baking powder and set the mixture aside.
5. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until they thicken, become creamy, and turn a pale, white-ish yellow. Then beat them into the bowl of ground almond mixture. There will be almost 2 cups of very soft pastry. Pour 2/3 cup into the traced circle…
… and spread it out to cover the circle’s interior. (There’s no need to be precise about spreading the pastry exactly out to the edge of the circle.) Place the circle of pastry, on the pan, in the freezer and chill it for 1 hour while you make the pastry cream and form the pastry shell in the pan.
6. Put the bowl holding the remainder of the pastry dough in the freezer for 30 minutes. While waiting for the dough to chill sufficiently to press it into the pan, make the cream for the pie filling.
II. Making the Cream:
2. Put the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until they become creamy. Then beat in the cornstarch.
3. Still mixing, slowly add the hot milk.
4. Pour the milk and egg mixture into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook the cream, stirring with a whisk, over medium heat until it slowly comes to a boil and thickens. (This may take about 5 minutes or a little longer.) Set the thickened cream aside to cool to lukewarm and then place it in the refrigerator while you line the springform pan with the chilled pastry in the bowl.
III. Lining the Pie Pan with the Pastry, Forming the Top Crust, Assembling and Baking the Pie:
2. After 30 minutes of chilling, remove the bowl of dough from the freezer. Butter your fingers, turn the dough into the pan and press it over the bottom and about 2.5 centimeters ( or 1 and 1/2-inches) up the sides. Put the pan back in the freezer for another 20 minutes. (The crust will firm up some more in the freezer and then it will be easy to even the crust out a little more and define the sides of it a little better before filling it.
3. After 20 more minutes of chilling in the freezer, take the crust out. With your fingers, even the bottom and rim of the pastry some more and then, fill it with the pastry cream and arrange a cup of cherries in the cream:
5. By now the top crust will have been chilling in the freezer for about 1 hour. Take it out of the freezer. The dough will still be pliable and too soft to come away from the paper in one piece. But this doesn’t matter. With a pizza cutter or knife, divide the dough into 8 sections. (The sections are used as a guide as you scrape off and flatten sections of dough and place them on top of the pie.) Butter your fingers. Scrape up a section of pastry dough with the spatula…
…But don’t labour over the crust too much. Placing a soft pastry dough over a soft filling is not tricky so long as you realize that the dough need not cover every space and will not be a thing of beauty before it is baked. As it bakes, however, the sections of top crust will spread out, meet and fill in most of the spaces….
6. Bake the pie in the middle of the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden and does not collapse when gently pressed with your finger. Cool the pie in the pan on a rack. Remove the rim. Lift the pie gently to peel away the parchment paper…or leave it on the parchment paper…and slide the pie onto a serving platter.
7. Sprinkle the pie with thin-sliced, toasted almonds, sieve powdered sugar over it and, just before serving, sieve a little more sugar over the pie and place cherries around on the top…
A Note: Hungarian Sour Cherry-Cream Pie is included in the Occasional Menu: Hungarian ‘Ten O’Clocks’ ~ a Tizórai.