Summertime means to me a time to enjoy good food, picnics, and lazy days and what better way to start off summer than to bake a cherry pie!
I don't know how many of you are fortunate enough to live near a cherry orchard. But I did, for a time. My home in South Bend, Indiana was 10 minutes from the Lehman Orchard in Niles Michigan which had a grove of tart cherry trees. Every summer around the 4th of July holiday I picked cherries at the Lehman Orchard and used them to bake a fresh cherry pie.
I really loved picking cherries and it was something I looked forward to every year. It's fun to pick cherries. You are sent out into the orchard with a bucket and the trees that are ready for harvest have ladders placed against their trunks . The cherries look like rubies hanging from the branches and warmed by the sun they are fairly bursting with the taste of summer. I know this because occasionally I would pop one into my mouth! Most of the time I would be completely by myself except for the occasional family that had come to make a day of it. I loved hearing the distant sound of children laughing and the overall lazy pace of slowly filling my bucket with the juicy cherries.
Generally a couple of hours was enough time to pick enough for a pie and I would then report to the pitting shed where they dumped my cherries into a machine that pitted the cherries within a matter of seconds! The machine is very archaic in appearance and rather what I imagine it must have been like to see a cotton gin at work.
I am no longer fortunate enough to live near a cherry orchard, but I still love a baked cherry pie. Being the soul of flexibility that I am, I now simply use canned cherries and, even though there is no comparison with using fresh cherries, I still love it.
Here's the recipe that they give out at Lehman's Orchard - along with my notes for using canned cherries.
Cherry Pie Recipe
Basic 9" Pie Crust (this is my basic pie crust recipe)
2 ½ C. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt (scant)
1 Tbs. sugar
1 C. Crisco vegetable shortening (buying it in the premeasured cubes makes measuring a lot easier)
Approx. 5-6 Tbs. ice cold water/white vinegar mixture (fill a small bowl with ice water and splash in some white vinegar into the mixture - you will be adding the water/vinegar mixture 1 Tbs. at a time when mixing the dough)
1 egg white (for brushing pie crust top)
Sugar for garnish
Cherry Pie Filling
4 C. Tart Pie Cherries (fresh preferred - but you can substitute canned tart cherries in natural juice - just don't use canned "pie filling" or sweet cherries)
3 Tbsp. Tapioca
1 1/3 C Sugar (Note: you will have to adjust the sugar if you are using canned cherries. If the cherries already have sugar added then only use 1/2 C sugar but if they don't have sugar added then taste them and depending on how sour they are go ahead and use up the full amount of sugar)
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 Tbs. unsalted butter (to dot on top of filling once it is in the pie shell)
Make Pie Crust
1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar.
2. Cut in shortening.
3. Add water/vinegar mixture 1 Tbs. at a time. Use a fork to blend/mix just until the mixture forms a dough.
4. Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in wax paper – let rest in refrigerator while you prepare filling.
1. Drain Cherries (Note: reserve 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the juice if using canned cherries - if you are using fresh cherries they have enough natural juices so that you don't have to reserve any juice)
2. Toss cherries with tapioca, sugar, almond extract (and reserved juice if using canned cherries). Let stand 15 minutes.
Roll out Pie Crusts
1. Flour your work space. Roll out bottom pie crust. I like to roll out the dough on floured wax paper as this helps prevent sticking. Wrap the crust around your rolling pin to transfer crust to the pie pan as this seems to help prevent tearing of the dough.
2. Fill crust with cherry filling and dot mixture with 1 Tbs. unsalted butter.
3. Roll out top pie crust. Cover cherry mixture and decorate crust with leftover dough. Make 4 slits to release steam.
4. Brush pie crust with egg white and sprinkle generously with white sugar.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. After 20-30 minutes check to see if pie crust is golden brown – if it is – or when it becomes so – cover pie loosely with aluminum foil to prevent over browning/burning.
3. Continue baking for another 35-45 minutes and juice is bubbling. Total baking time is generally 65-75 minutes.
Mr Puffy's Special Day
Poor Mr Puffy has been sadly neglected lately as we have been so busy with work. Not that he would complain. To make it up to him we gave him a little extra spoiling this past weekend. He began his special day with a relaxing massage. Only his daddy knows how to give a massage just the way he likes it! He also enjoys the male bonding time.
And since Mr Puffy also enjoys special treats - it wouldn't be a special day without a special treat! For his special treat I made him the brownie mix for dogs that he received as a Christmas gift from his good friend Ralph (a german shephard who lives next door). He's also anxious to try some of the treats from The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook a surpise gift from his pals Mosby and Roscoe who have the most generous mommy in the whole world (Rosanne at Firefly Nights) who knows a thing or two about tea, tea goodies, and tea etiquette!
Speaking of Tea Etiquette....
It is not proper tea etiquette to allow your tongue to loll out in anticipation of a treat while you wait for tea to be served. Parenthetically, do we occasionally have to speak with Mr Puffy about this.
On the other hand, it is proper tea etiquette (and perfectly understandable) to smile broadly as one patiently waits to be served a special treat that is still warm from the oven!
I think he liked the brownies. He certainly ate them enthusiastically.
I hope this is the start of a wonderful summer for everyone (and includes at least one picnic).