“Twin Peaks” and a Damn Good (Vegan) Cherry Pie

“Diane, if you ever get up this way, that cherry pie is worth a stop.”

Laura Vincent
Aug 23 · 7 min read
Photo: ABC/Showtime

The second installment in “Media Consumption,” a series of essays and recipes that take culinary inspiration from our favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books

You can walk backwards from countless great TV shows and end up hitting Twin Peaks — from Pretty Little Liars to Veronica Mars to Top of the Lake, such is the aesthetic and thematic influence of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s show. And today, that influence is also culinary. While I was very much alive when Twin Peaks aired on television in 1990, I was by no means the target audience for it — I was more absorbed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Fantasia, and my time would come many years later.

Photo: ABC/Showtime

And now I adore this show. Twin Peaks was and remains a revelation of a series: endearing yet terrifying, soapy yet cinematic, surreal yet procedural. The character who stands where these points meet is FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, who comes to the town to investigate a shocking murder. Portrayed by Kyle McLachlan, Cooper is a curious cat — sleek-haired and handsome, convinced his dreams are evidence, unfailingly positive yet reservedly polite, enigmatic — and just very, very different. His optimism and enthusiasm is particularly unfettered when he talks about food, and he’s at his most joyous in regards to the region’s pies. Such is his love of cherry pie in particular that it has become emblematic of the show itself along with other recurring motifs like black coffee, owls, and red curtains.

If you’ve never watched this show, I envy you! I remember when I first encountered its heightened, noir-ish dialogue, oddly loveable characters and gorgeous visual style, and it gave me that same feeling as when you hear heavy rain on the roof, comforting yet thrilling simultaneously. Incidentally, this show pairs particularly well with rain on the roof, a big blanket, and a clear schedule.

Photo: Laura Vincent

I am as enthusiastic about Twin Peaks as Dale Cooper is about pie, and am currently amidst yet another rewatch. Many people have been driven to make cherry pie because of Twin Peaks, including myself back in 2011 — in fact, that was the first and only time I’d ever tried cherry pie. Until now.

I was inspired by Twin Peaks once more, this time to make a great vegan cherry pie that Dale Cooper would be proud of. Don’t get me wrong, Cooper was also notably fond of bacon and doughnuts, but I think his overall willingness to accept people for who they are means he’d appreciate this pie just as much as one from a local diner. Moreover, I thought this pie was delicious, an opinion which hopefully holds as much weight as that of a fictional character.

I’ve never attempted homemade vegan pastry before but I was bolstered by reading Sarah Ridgeway’s story here on Tenderly about this very subject. My recipe uses coconut oil and is made super quickly in a food processor. In order to make the pastry special — as much a feature as the filling it contained — I added a little orange juice and zest, cinnamon, ground almonds and vanilla. This makes a crisp, short pastry that melts in the mouth and supports the filling without going soggy.

Photo: Laura Vincent

I made this pie twice, once with cherries from a jar and once with fresh cherries. The fresh cherry pie had stronger flavour and much better texture, but using the jar of cherries was a lot easier and cheaper, so you work with what is accessible to you. The second time inexplicably went a bit disastrously: the gas ran out on the stove while I was simmering the cherries, I cut my finger on the food processor, I got flour on the cat, and the pastry just wouldn’t behave — I ended up having to re-roll and press it into place so many times I thought I’d never get it into the oven. I’m so glad I persisted though, because the pie turned out delicious. I’m sharing this to reassure you that even in the face of recipe-related adversity you can breathe deep and keep going — but if you want to jump ahead and use your own preferred bought pie pastry I absolutely won’t hold it against you.

A Damn Good Vegan Cherry Pie

Filling:

  • Three cups pitted fresh cherries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Two tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence
  • ¼ teaspoon citric acid (optional, but really gives the syrup a kick)
  • Two tablespoons cornstarch
  • Three tablespoons ground almonds

Pastry:

  • 3/4 cup refined coconut oil (as in, coconut oil that has had the coconut flavour removed)
  • Two cups plain flour
  • One teaspoon baking powder
  • Three tablespoons ground almonds
  • Three tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • One tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Three tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
Photo: Laura Vincent

Notes:

  • If you can’t get fresh fruit, you can use jarred cherries in syrup instead and proceed from step 2.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, that’s okay! It’ll just take a bit of extra work and patience. Chill your coconut oil till it’s solid, then finely chop it and freeze along with the flour as per the recipe. Use your fingers to rub the cold coconut oil and flour together and then stir in the remaining ingredients, lightly kneading and pressing the dough till it comes together.
  • This recipe is meant to use one orange altogether, for the juice and zest required for the filling and pastry. If your orange isn’t particularly juicy and you don’t have enough, make up the remainder with cold water. You could also consider using lemons instead.
  • The remaining cherry syrup can be mixed with sparkling water, added to cocktails, used for poaching stone fruit, whatever you like!
  • I found the easiest way to remove the stones from the cherries was to use the loop at the end of a small wire whisk, pushing it in and twisting around seemed to work well at extracting the stones with minimal loss of fruit.

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

Laura Vincent

Written by

Food blogger and author from New Zealand. Writing at hungryandfrozen.com; Twitter at @hungryandfrozen; and exclusive stuff at Patreon.com/hungryandfrozen.

Tenderly

Tenderly

A friendly + radical vegan magazine dedicated to living well with kindness towards animals, care for the planet, and justice for all.

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