Friday, February 21, 2014

Incredible Cherry Pie!


It's National Pie Month, National Cherry month (or, so I've read)  and--it' s no coincidence--that it's President's Week.  Our school district is closed, and that means I can spend another week of vacation time to be at home. Thank you, Mr. Presidents!

Did George Washington really chop down a cherry tree? Who knows?  But this is a perfect excuse for me to make one of my favorite pies.  My husband was at work, and I had the house all to myself. 

It's been far too long since I've made a cherry pie, and I admit that I've always used canned cherry pie filling.  I've always wanted to make my own cherry pie filling, and yesterday was the day to do it. I had three cans of Oregon Red Tart Cherries, and a recipe from King Arthur flour.   These aren't cheap to buy-- our local grocery store priced them at $5.50 a can.  (I believe Wal-Mart has them for a cheaper price, but I rarely go there.)

Following King Arthur Flour's recipe, I drained the cherries.  The recipe suggests using their pie filling enhancer or tapioca.  I ran out of  pie filling enhancer, but I did have a jar of Instant Clearjel. I prefer this product over using either flour or tapioca, because I believe it doesn't "muddy" the color or flavor of my pies-- and it works great!

I reduced the cinnamon from 3/4 of a teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon, because I didn't want that spice to dominate the almond extract.  To me, cherry and almond are a perfect pairing. Love it. I called the King Arthur Flour Baker's Hotline and they told me to use 7 1/2 teaspoons Clearjel, mixed into the sugar. So the filling was made, and I set it aside.  I preheated the oven to 425F.  It's time to roll out the pie crust.

I made the pie crust dough the day before, and refrigerated it. I  let it slightly soften, for no more than 30 minutes. This would be my first time making a lattice pie crust.  For some reason, I had it in my head that this would be a challenge to do. After looking at step-by-step tutorials, I took a deep breath and got rolling. Pun intended.

NOTE: I've posted several pie recipes on my blog and, so far, my personal favorite recipe for pie crust is to use all butter (Pate Brisee).  Personally, I prefer the flavor that butter imparts. I honestly believe I can achieve a very tender pie crust, without using shortening.  For shortening/lard purists, I have posted a few pies with shortening as the ingredient.

I used a ruler, because I didn't trust my eye to make straight and even lattice cuts.  Done.

I spooned the filling into the pie crust.  I keep forgetting to adjust for my deep dish pie pan.  I should have used one more can of cherries, so the pie filling would go all the way to the top.  No sense fretting, and I continued on...

 Time to make the lattice top.

Well, that was easy!

I had flour all over my hands, so I didn't photograph how I wove the strips, but it really isn't rocket science. I found myself talking to myself-- "in and out, in and out", thinking of a May Pole dance.

I stepped back to admire my work.  Nice! Then it hit me...

I forgot to dot the filling with butter! So, you can kind of see how I made the lattice, after all! You don't have to dot fruit pies with butter, I but I like the richness it adds to the filling. Okay, done.

The perfectionist in me was annoyed that I had skipped a "weave".  Guess what else I suddenly realized?
The reserved cherry juice! I forgot to add 2/3 cup of the reserved cherry juice to the filling!!!  I slapped my forehead, and had to just exhale and hope that the cherries would release enough juice to make this pie a success.

What I enjoy, most, about making pies is playing with dough. I actually find crimping pies to be very therapeutic work for me.  In retrospect, I should have used a fork to crimp the edges of this lattice pie, and that's what I'll do in the future.  I thought the crust was a tad too thick for my personal liking. Then again, I've admitted numerous times that I really don't care for eating pie crust. 

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NOTE: If you'd like to see how I make my pie crust dough, with a food processor, and how I roll and crimp a perfect pie crust, click here to see it.  

I like to whisk an egg with a little water and then brush it on.  I think it gives the baked pie crust a pretty golden color. Most times I add a little sparkling white sugar, for texture. But, this time, I skipped using it.  I set two timers-- one for 45 minutes and another for 25 minutes.  I like to check my pies, at about the halfway point, to check that the crust isn't getting too dark.  Yikes! At 25 minutes, one area was getting dark, so I quickly added a pie crust shield (hastily made of rolled aluminum foil) and took the pie out at 45 minutes.

I exhaled a sigh of relief. There was juice bubbling through the lattice. 

A pie should be allowed to cool for at least three hours, before slicing. Otherwise,  the filling might ooze all over the place.  Pie making is messy work, I admit.  But, there's plenty of time to kill before I can cut it open and taste it.

Three hours later, with my son waiting in the wings, I grabbed a knife and spatula...

Look at that! The filling is firmly set. Will the filling be like concrete? Let's see.

I hope you're not really hungry right now. To me, this is food porn at it's best.  See the juice? The cherries pretty color? That flaky layers of crust?  I'm one very happy home baker.

I refer to the "stuff" that collects in the center of a cut pie as "pie guts".  This is my favorite part to eat. Remember? I'm not a pie crust fan. I take my first bite...

TASTING NOTES:  Pure love. Ecstasy.  If you love cherries, then you will love this recipe.  These are Montmorency Cherries and they are absolutely perfect for making cherry pie!  They are just a tad tart, with a perfect balance of sweet. The cinnamon was so subtle , that I was glad I reduced it. The almond flavor had the perfect balance that gave this cherry pie that old-fashioned retro taste.  Yes, the filling was juicy and sweet, but not over-the-top.
 


The crust-- well, the crust was as tender as anyone could hope for.  True to my style, I left the crust behind.  Does that drive pie crust lovers crazy?  My husband always gets my crusts, and he's a very happy camper about that. (I also was the lucky winner of a rogue cherry pit that I bit into.)

It's been years since I've bought store bought pie crust, and now I am reminded why.  For one, pie crusts are really easy to make. You can control what ingredients go into it.  They take minutes to make, and you can freeze them for a month.

Both my husband and son say that this is the best pie I have ever made.  They say that this surpasses my famous Olallieberry Pie. Really?! Well, thank you!  My son ate three slices. Husband and I eat had two. This morning, there is one odd-shaped slice left. It's been gutted.  The nocturnal kitchen mice must have returned, because nobody is fessing up.

The best cherry pie?  Well, humbly said.. "yes".  Absolutely.  I will never pie cherry pie filling again. Once cherry season comes, I'm going to stock up on fresh cherries to freeze and to make this pie again...and again...and again!

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11 comments:

Sue/the view from great island said...

This is literally the prettiest pie I've seen in ages, and Cherry is the ultimate, in my opinion...pinning!

Sireesha Puppala said...

Perfect pie n it's really incredible ! Love the preparation

James Alton Thomas said...

I will look forward to making this delicious recipe this weekend. I will use Jarred Sour Cherries though as OREGON Brand is not available here. Will post my results to you on your FB page!

scottiedog1965 said...

I have never seen red cherries for sale. All I can find, even when in season, are the darker cherries which I love. I wonder if they will make a good pie?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Cherry is my favorite fruit pie (unless blueberry is my favorite). I usually use froze cherries. I have even used fresh from time to time, but the pitting is such a pain! I don't often see plain canned cherries. I once bought them in a jar at Whole Foods and you are so right about the price! I really have to invest in some of that clearjel stuff. I hate runny pies and cornstarch never seems to cut it.

I always do a butter/shortening mix in crusts. I can't seem to get a butter crust to not be crunchy.

Big Dude said...

Great looking pie Debbie - especially with the lattice top crust.

Debby Foodiewife said...

I wouldn't hesitate to try darker cherries, Scottiedog. I would think it would work.
James Thomas, muwah! Can't wait to hear about your pie success. My guess is you jarred the cherries yourself?
Ms. Short-- the key to crust success is to not overwork it. I combine the butter just enough to get the dough to bind. I like seeing bits of whole butter in the crust. This will expand, as it bakes and yields a tender crust. Try it!

Mimi G said...

Beautiful....'nuff said!

Lin said...

Being as I have 4 birthdays in 5 days this month, I am tired of cake! When I saw your recipe I just died and went to heaven! Pure genius! I will be making this pie for the birthday tomorrow. Thank you!!!

Joanne said...

Man, I don't think we can even get canned sour cherries around here!! It's pretty tragic. I definitely want to try this pie though! Guess I'll just have to look a little harder...

Barbara Bakes said...

This does look like the perfect cherry pie. I need to make it soon.