Oh hey there. It’s almost mid-August? Where’d the summer go? Oh, right, we moved. That took some time. Still is. Yikes. Moving is the best and the worst, isn’t it? Those little piles around the house that you’re going to “get to” sometime but you just never seem to have the time…
Anyway, enough about that. I want to write about pie. Cherry pie. Last month, we set out on a quest to find some pie cherries. Dan grew up having cherry pie, and he really wanted to try to make one. Searching online, I found a farm in Brighton, Colorado that had “u-pick” cherries. Perfect. But it was not to be. First we tried to go on a day they were closed. Then we tried to go in the afternoon but they were only open in the morning. Finally we set out to go but saw on the website that their cherries were all picked out. We called, and they said they still had some for sale in their farm store. We jumped in the car as fast as possible, throwing Willa’s nap to the wind. They’d sold out, so Willa met some chickens.
A week or so later, Dan couldn’t shake his hankering for pie, so he decided to make a blueberry one. But his heart wasn’t in it. He cut corners. He rushed. The pie was edible, but barely. Major pie disaster. Let’s not even talk anymore about it.
But fear not our last-month selves. A cherry pie was still in our future! We were up in Estes Park for the wedding of my dear friend Gena, and on our drive home we saw the Colorado Cherry Company. They must have cherries, we said! And indeed, they did. We bought 2 pounds of sour pie cherries, and despite an absurdly long wait (perhaps their freezer was 7 floors underground?), it was all quite simple.
A week later, the pie baking commenced. This time, no corners were cut. Everything was carefully read and measured and thought-through. We combined recipes and advice from a few different baker-extraordinaries, and came up with what I dare say is one of the best pies ever. So, if you can figure out a way to get your hand on some pie cherries, I highly reccomend you make this bad boy. It’s a good one.
To prepare the crust dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup butter
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1T lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
1. Sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl.
2. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the lemon juice and add water.
4. Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture.
5. Bring the dough together quickly using your hands.
6. Knead until smooth, either in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface.
7. Divide into two equal halves, wrap in plastic wrap/bags, and chill in fridge for 45 minutes.
To prepare the crust for the pie filling:
1. Remove one ball of dough from the fridge. Using a rolling pin (or empty wine bottle) on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is approximately an 1/8 inch thick and roughly the size of your pie pan.
2. Press carefully into a pie pan.
3. Freeze for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. After 30 minutes have passed, remove crust from freezer and cover with tin foil that has been lightly greased on the underside. Add dry beans of any variety to the top of the foil to add pressure to the crust to prevent it from puffing up.
6. Once oven is heated, bake crust for 10-12 minutes. Set aside.
For the pie filling:
5 cups tart pie cherries
2 2/3 Tablespoons instant tapioca
2/3 cup sugar
1.5 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 drops of almond extract (scant 1/8 teaspoon)
1. Mix cherries, tapioca, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.
2. Add lemon juice and almond extract.
3. Transfer mixture to pie crust.
4. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
5. Remove second ball of dough from the fridge. Roll it out until it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (we like it a bit thicker).
6. Cut dough into 1 inch thick strips. Weave a lattice on top of the pie, pressing the end of each strip into the lower layer of pie crust and trimming off excess dough as necessary.
7. Bake pie at 450 for 10 minutes. Place a cookie sheet underneath pie to catch drippage.
8. Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes until crust is golden brown and cherries are bubbling.