Have you ever heard that folksong.....something something, "Billy Boy, Billy Boy" ? At some point the singer asks "Charming Billy" whether his new wife can bake a cherry pie. He says, "She can bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can wink his eye! She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother." Evidently, as long as his new wife could bake a cherry pie quickly, it was fine with him if she lived with her mother. I don't know anyone that likes cherry pie that much, but I do know that for some reason, a lot of men like cherry pie-- at least the ones I know! It is definitely one of Ben's favorites!
Here's the thing about cherry pie: some people won't even touch one unless it's made completely from scratch, and some people like only the kind made with canned pie filling. There's no middle ground here that I can tell. I think, like a lot of things, it's a product of your childhood. If you grew up with a mom that liked to cook and maybe in the country where fruit was either fresh or home canned, then you probably are a hold out for the "from scratch" pie. BUT, if you grew up loving those packaged fried pies that were sold at every 7-11 type store around the country, then nothing beats that thickened, sweet, bright red stuff! We like what we like!
If you haven't joined either side yet, or you like the "from scratch" type of pie, then try this recipe. As far as fruit pies go, cherry is one of the easiest and most reliable. If you don't make pie crust (another blog!), the ready made kinds are good, or the boxed pie crust mixes are fine. As we say in yoga, "No judgments!" Ha!
Pastry for a two-crust pie
2 cans tart cherries, packed in water
3 Tbl. cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 Tbl. butter
few drops red food coloring (this can ease the pain for the canned filling fans, but it's optional, of course!)
Line an 8-inch pie plate with pastry. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Drain the cherries, reserving one cup cherry juice. Put the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and stir to mix well. Add the cherry juice. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. It will be translucent. Take off the heat and add the butter and flavoring. Mix well. Add the food coloring if using. Stir in the drained cherries.
Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut strips (a bit over 1/2 inch or so wide). Pour the cherry filling into the pie plate and top with the pastry strips to make a lattice pattern. There is a procedure for making a real, woven lattice top, but it doesn't seem like a good use of time to me! I just go across and across the other way. No one's said anything so far! (Maybe people are keeping their complaints to themselves-- aren't they nice?! Choose friends carefully!) Go around the edge of the pie with a fork, pressing down to seal the two crusts together well. Sprinkle the top with sugar if you want.
Put the pie on a foil lined cookie sheet (It will probably bubble over, and this saves you a mess in the oven.). Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and continue baking for 45-50 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Allow to cool before slicing.
This recipe makes 4 cute mini-cherry pies also!