Recipe A Day #18: Homemade Cherry Pie

A quick programming note: once again we'll have our Friday Links post up a little bit later today, as we continue with our month of new daily recipes. Enjoy!

Baking pies is not in my cooking wheelhouse. In fact, other than a pie making lesson my mother gave me at least 30 years ago, I've never actually baked a pie. This might explain the not-in-my-wheelhouse part, I don't know.

Fortunately, I married someone who, weirdly, enjoys making pies. To the point where she finds making them meditative, even calming. Which is great for me, because I get a meditative and calm wife... and pie. Heh.

Today's Cherry Pie recipe, then, isn't my doing. It's Laura's. And it was amazing. One of the best pies I've ever eaten.

Homemade Cherry Pie

4 cups pitted red cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Pie crust, see instructions below

1) Place pitted cherries into a covered saucepan over low heat, and slowly heat cherries until they begin to release their juice. Stir often: don't let cherries burn or stick to the bottom. Gradually increase heat to medium-low as the cherries release more and more liquid, continuing to stir frequently for about 12 minutes.

2) Separately: In a bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch until uniform; pour the sugar/cornstarch mixture into the hot cherries and juice, and combine well. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook until the filling has thickened, about 2 more minutes.

3) Remove from heat, let cool (for about 1/2 hour), and then use as pie filling (see below for pie crust recipe). Bake at 375F for 50 minutes. Optional: use aluminum foil or pie "edge covers" on the edge of the pie crust to prevent the crust from over-browning.

Pie Crust Instructions
2/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons Crisco (vegetable shortening)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 Tablespoons cold water

1) Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add Crisco. Combine Crisco and flour using a pastry dough blender. When the dough is in pea sized pieces, gradually add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, while fluffing and folding the dough with a fork.

2) After you've finished adding the water, flour your hands and using your hands gently press the dough into a ball.

3) Cut the dough into two equal-sized balls. Gently roll lower crust out and lay into a pie pan. Add cherry filling. Roll out the upper crust and lay on top of the filling, molding the two crusts together over the lip of the pie pan.
Recipe Notes:
1) Don't be intimidated by the prep-work involved in pitting cherries. From chef Laura herself: "Believe it or not, pitting cherries is way easier than peeling apples."

2) "What kind of cherries?" This was a question we got asked on when Laura shared this recipe on her Facebook page the other day. The short answer is: cherries. Uh, as in the kind you buy in your store's produce department for eating.

3) For more context on making a good pie crust, see CK's post on how to make an apple pie with a perfect flaky crust. Note also in the photo below that Laura took things up a notch and made one of those aesthetically pleasing lattice pie covers. If you want to learn how to make one of those, however, Google it yourself. Remember, pies are not in my wheelhouse.

4) Read the following only if you grew up during the 80s: When Laura first suggested making a cherry pie, I showed her this song, drawing on my freakish knowledge of 1980s pop music. She watched/listened for a few seconds, and then earnestly asked, "is this some kind of parody of an 80s hair band?"

"Sadly, no," I told her. "It is an actual 80s hair band. It was... an unfortunate era for music."

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