Baking can be a stress reliever for me. Not always though – finding out you don’t have any more flour or having something completely flop can definitely pile the stress on for me. But when you have all of your ingredients together and things come out tasting amazing, baking can actually melt my anxieties away.
I have definitely been known to bake chocolate chip cookies (one of my go-to recipes which I will definitely share later) at one in the morning because I have been so stressed I can’t sleep.
This whole summer I have not made a single pie and actually done very little baking at all, for my standards. While this is a good thing some times simply doing a task does not help alleviate my anxiety.
In the past I have had panic attacks that cause me to hyperventilate and cry uncontrollably and I would be paralyzed by fear until I became so exhausted I physically couldn’t carry it on. That is definitely an extreme form of anxiety and can/did disrupt my daily life. Times like this baking would not have helped me one bit even if I could manage to do it. What did help was deep breathing. Breathing in while counting to three, pausing, and then breathing out while counting to three as well. I would repeat this until I could at least talk.
While this type of symptom is what I experienced with anxiety there are other symptoms that may be a sign that you are experiencing something that is beyond normal stress experiences. This website has a couple lists of symptoms ranging from physical to emotional and also some symptoms of panic attacks. If you or someone you know is having symptoms like these, I suggest finding a doctor or therapist and discussing what could be causing them.
So what is the connection between this pie and anxiety? Some people think that cherries may help decrease anxiety. Am I trying too hard!?
Not only is it filled with anxiety busting cherries but it is deliciously juicy and bursting with a lemon-laced cherry filling. The crust is sweet and tender with a little crunch from the sugar. The process was simple (in the pie world) with the crust coming together easily in a food processor. Simple pie? How could that not reduce anyone’s anxiety?
While the crust was chilling, I was able to pit the cherries (possibly the most arduous task – but if you have one of these little guys it makes it easy and relatively mess free) and make the filling.
If you like your pies to set up more I suggest boiling the filling before you put it in your crust or covering your crust so as not to burn it and bake the pie for a longer time so that the filling gets really bubbly and sets up more. I haven’t personally tried these techniques but it seems like a good way to get a less juicy filling.
Double-Crusted Lemon Cherry Pie
yields 1 9-inch pie
Adapted from Joy the Baker
For the Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Filling:
4 cups pitted fresh cherries
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on crust
To make the crust: With a food processor grating attachment or hand grater, grate the full amount of butter and empty into a small bowl. Put the flour, sugar, salt into the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the cold, grated butter and pulse a 3 to 4 times. Pour in the cup of chilled buttermilk and pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will be moist and the consistency of sugar cookie dough. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour – I also put the wrapped pieces of dough into a sealed Tupperware container just to make sure I keep out any unwanted flavors from getting into the fat.
To make the filling: Gently stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
To roll out the pie crust: On a well-floured surface and with a well-floured rolling pin, roll the bottom crust 1/8″ thick and about 12″ in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan – you can do this easily by lightly rolling the dough over the rolling pin and moving it to the pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan – leave enough extra hanging over to fold under with the top piece. Roll out the top crust exactly as you did the bottom. Use a small circle cutter – about the diameter of a dollar coin piece – to cut a hole in the middle of the crust. Gently pour filling into piecrust. Put the remaining butter in small chunks around the pie filling. Top with crust. Fold both layers of pie dough under and crimp with a fork.
To finish: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 F. Brush the egg wash over pie crust, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake the pie for 45 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the cherry filling is bubbling – so that the corn starch in the filling will set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving ( I waited a full night and cut into for lunch the next day. Perfection.)
P.S. I am not a fully licensed therapist (I have my temporary license in Tennessee for Marriage and Family Therapy) and this blog is not intended for diagnosing or treating mental illness. This blog’s intended purpose is for education and raising awareness of mental health issues and through that hopefully reducing the stigma surrounding them. Mental health issues are serious and are not something that should be dealt with lightly, especially if you are dealing with symptoms that cause you difficulty. Mental health problems can be prevented and when dealt with can vastly improve your quality of life. If you would like to talk to someone, you can send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can find a suitable resource for what you are dealing with.