the boon of cherries = a windfall ::::
The first time I tried fresh cherry pie, I was in junior high school. My friend Jamie and I would walk down the street from her house to her grandmother’s one summer, cherry pie always waiting for us. Grandma Elzora had friends in high places apparently: someone had given her pounds of fresh cherries that summer, multiple times, she always knowing exactly what to do with them. I still remember how perfect the pie was: the sourness, the sweetness, and the flaky crust, all homemade. No vanilla ice cream needed, not even whipped cream. The cherries sat in that pie cuddled together, like a tightly knit sweater, instead of the canned cherry pie filling I had sadly encountered previously, a sucrotic ooze puddling on my plate.
I planned multiple times to go cherry picking, the most recent last year. It never happened. I’ve wanted to see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto or Washington DC, but never have had the chance. It wasn’t until this year, still remembering the gale of cherries up north that I missed picking last year, that I decided to make my first cherry pie. So inundated are we with pounds of cherries that Peach and Grub actually started refusing to eat them. Make a pie, I thought. Just like Elzora.
Realizing quickly that I would never duplicate Grandma Elzora’s perfect pie (and not ever having the recipe in hand to try), I melded a memory of her cherry pie with a perfect strawberry pie I had, also long ago, in high school when visiting a church in Michigan (details here). I turned the traditional double-crust cherry pie into a single-crust with firm, glowing raw cherries bobbling up from a cooked cherry mash.
I liked it, really liked it, but translating a fresh strawberry pie recipe into a analogous cherry pie didn’t work 100% for me. I felt the cherries were a little too dense for this presentation, unless each slice was very thin. I have yet to attain the status of Elzora’s cherry pie, and I doubt I ever will. I’ll leave that to Elzora, where in Heaven I’m sure she is serving cherry pies to everyone.
Have a great Fourth of July, America. A cool cherry pie is a great dessert to serve under the fireworks!
- 7 cups cherries (about 1138 grams or 2½ pounds or approximately 3½ pints)
- 1 single perfect pie crust (recipe on next post this week!)
- ½ to ⅔ cup sugar (this depends on how sweet your cherries are -- mine were pretty sweet so I used less than ⅔ cup)
- scant ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- heavy whipping cream (to whip and serve with pie)
- Bake pie shell and allow to cool.
- Pit your cherries and put 3 cups into a food processor or blender. Pulse gently to mash (do not puree). Set aside mashed cherries in one bowl, leaving the other 4 cups of the whole pitted cherries separate.
- In a medium-large saucepan, add sugar and ½ cup of water. Cook over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Add mashed cherries and bring to boil.
- Mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water until smooth and gradually add to boiling cherry mash. Bring to boil again (as cornstarch-water mixture will bring down the heat some) and cook while stirring for 2 minutes or until thick. Stir in about 1 cup of whole pitted cherries and mix (just grab a handful from your reserved 4 cups that you set aside).
- Cool about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Prepare pre-baked pie crust: place reserved whole pitted cherries (now about 3 cups) in pie crust and spoon cooked cherry mixture over pastry. Cool to warm then place in refrigerator for about 2 hours to cool completely.
- Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.