Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oh My, Cherry Pie

This summer, the cherry tree in our front yard fruited gorgeously. It produces those little tart cherries that don't make for good eating, so it's not that exciting, but Shawn decided that he would make it his mission to collect enough of them for me to be able to make something with. So over about a two week span, he climbed the ladder, yanked on branches, and even practiced his tree climbing skills to collect as many of the little things as possible. Though the robins got most of the cherries, we ended up with quite a bit due to the tree being so dang huge.

It was so cute. Shawn up in the tree, being so gung-ho about his little cherries. He even pitted each one before freezing them. He cut open each one, then added a little water to the pile of pits and boiled them for a bit, adding the resulting juice to the cherries in the freezer. (He read online that that would increase the depth of flavor of the fruit.)

So after all his effort, he ended up collecting just shy of 4 cups of cherries. (It almost filled a large yogurt container.)

Christmas Eve proved to be the time when the cherries were meant to shine. My sister and her husband hosted our family Christmas Eve dinner, and we were asked to bring a pie. I had never made a cherry pie before, (much less could count the number of times I've eaten cherry pie in my life on one hand,) but decided that I needed to try my hand at a classic cherry pie.

I have a confession to make. I almost never make a pie crust from scratch. I find cutting the butter into the flour to be a pain in the ass, and though doing it that way makes for a super delicious, flaky, buttery crust, Krusteaz make a pie crust mix that is plenty yummy.

So the first step was to dump the cherries into a colander sitting over a bowl and sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over them. The goal is to collect the juices from the cherries to use later. While the cherries are resting, I made the pie dough and used half for the bottom, and put the other half of dough into the refrigerator to chill for later.

Then I dumped the collected cherry juice and put it into a small bowl. The cherries went into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat with about a teaspoon of lemon juice. Into the cherry juice I mixed in 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and another 1/4 cup of sugar. Once the cornstarch was dissolved, I added that to the saucepan with the cherries. I cooked the cherries and the juice until they were starting to thicken, and took them off the heat to cool for about a half hour.

Now I knew that 4 cups wasn't going to be enough to cherries to fill an entire pie so I decided to add some pears, since that is a fruit with a mild flavor on its own. So I cut up a couple pears and used about half of them to line the bottom of the pie plate.

Once the cherries were a bit cooler, I mixed in a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract then poured it into the prepared pie plate. This is when I added the rest of the sliced pear, but just fitting them in here and there so that they were evenly placed.

Now it was lattice crust time! I've never done a lattice before, so I was excited. It was pretty easy and super fun. I gave it a little egg wash, then sprinkled with large sugar crystals for a little sparkle and some red decorative sugar in the middle for extra festive-ness. Hey, Shawn put a lot of effort into collecting these cherries so I wanted to make sure to put as much effort into the pie.

Into a 400 degree oven it went and stayed there for about 35 minutes. I knew it was done when the filling was bubbly and the crust was nice and golden brown.

Holy shit. This pie was delicious.

Next year, I'm getting into that tree with Shawn.

Hoping everyone's holiday was a smashing success...

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