Fresh picked, juicy, teeming with pure flavor, flaky, melting on your tongue, divine, and scrumptious; just a few descriptions that popped into my mind once I was done baking the freshest cherry pie that could possibly be baked. I’m talking from tree to a la mode in 4 hours.
The pie cherry tree started calling my name one sunny afternoon from the backyard. The succulent red cherries, all but glowing in the sunlight, peeked through the leaves. I just had to transform their tart perfection into a new tantalizing entity wrapped in the flakiest of crusts. An hour in the dazzling sun lead to more than a pie’s worth of the best cherries my family’s yard had to offer. Why just gather enough for 1? Having only one fresh pie to share is almost a sin in my family.
Taking those sun warmed rubies inside to be stemmed and pitted, knowing these tasty jewels’ fate was an amazing feeling. The squish and squelch as the freshly pitted cherries plopped into the bowl waiting for the next phase of their transformation was almost transfixing.
Once my scrumptious cherries were finally ready I set them aside to get my red stained hands into the flour and shortening for my pie crust. Working that dough was relaxing after the ladder climbing and cherry pitting of the last couple hours. Then that was popped into the freezer to quick chill, I just didn’t have the patience that day to wait for it to cool in the fridge. While that ball of “don’t fail me now” pie dough stiffened up I whipped up the luscious filling.
Rolling out the dough is always fun. It takes a sense of humor to finally get it right after the 5th or 6th attempt at getting the bottom crust to be just right in the pie plate, or at least acceptable enough to not leak everywhere. The excitement started to climb higher when I filled that waiting shell with those fresh plucked, sugar coated and oozing cherries. Then that all important finishing touch of struggling to get all the lattice to not look like a 4 year old put it together.
I waited, and then waited some more, while the scent of perfection wafted through and warmed the noses of everyone in the house. It set my mouth to watering and hankering to get at that magical pie! I could hardly stand to wait the full amount of time needed for it to be done. Then, as anyone who’s baked a pie knows, more time was waited for it to be just this side of molten lava before diving in.
That first bite… My world narrowed to that explosion of my mind and mouth being taken over by the best pie in my entire life. Words are too confining to begin to describe the feelings I had in that moment. That was the moment when I knew I needed to become a professional baker.
Here is the recipe that I used from Taste of Home:
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 25 min. Bake: 55 min. + cooling
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup cherry juice blend
- 4 cups fresh tart cherries, pitted or frozen pitted tart cherries, thawed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup shortening
- 5 to 7 tablespoons cold water
- In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in cherry juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add the cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg and extract; set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add cold water, tossing with a fork until a ball forms. Divide pastry in half so that one ball is slightly larger than the other.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out larger ball to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate; trim even with edge of plate. Add filling. Roll out remaining pastry; make a lattice crust. Trim, seal and flute edges.
- Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°; bake 45-50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.Yield: 8 servings.