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My First Cherry Pie

July 2, 2007

Cherry Pie

One summer about six or seven years ago, my friend Charlie and I went out to pick blackberries by the DeLaveaga disc golf course in Santa Cruz. We fought through brambles and stinging bugs and filled a couple buckets with blackberries, enough to try to bake a pie. What we didn’t do, though, is figure out how to make pie crust, and our kitchen experimentation ended up a disaster. We decided to settle for a sugary blackberry sauce to pour over ice cream, and we were perfectly satisfied. But pieless.

About four years ago, my good friend PJ Burks came to visit in Boston, and we went apple picking. It was a glorious fall afternoon, and we filled bags and bags with the most delicious apples I’ve ever tasted. We came home with all of our apples and decided to make a pie, but remembering my previous crust difficulties, we bought a premade crust. Our apple pie was beautiful and we were very proud, but my heart remained rankled by the fact that I had to yet to really, truly, and honestly bake a pie.

Last week I bought an enormous bag of beautiful cherries, and I decided this was it. This was the time to bake a pie, a real pie, from scratch, with a lattice-top crust and everything. And when the weather finally cooled down enough, on Friday, I did it. I baked my first cherry pie.

By “my first cherry pie,” I mean I’d never even tasted a cherry pie before. As a kid I was definitely a strawberry rhubarb girl, and at Thanksgiving we usually had the standard pumpkin and apple. When we ate out in diners, I usually went for the chocolate pudding-style pies, because they look so damn decadent, and how can you resist something with bananas and chocolate and peanut butter and sprinkles to eat glorified fruit? You can’t. So this here pie experiment was truly a first. I wasn’t even sure what cherry pie was supposed to taste like!

Bon Appetit ran a pie feature in July’s issue, and I used their tips and tricks to make the crust. I was a bit worried that it was still too warm, and that my hands were melting the butter and lard as I crumbled it all together with the flour. I was also worried when I ran out of white flour and had to use about a cup of whole wheat. I was worried when I rolled out the bottom crust and it turned out to be not quite big enough to fit in my new pie pan with the requisite overhand, and I was worried when a strip of my lattice top kept falling into the cherries. At last, I was worried that the crust was browning quickly in the oven but the cherry filling wasn’t yet bubbling.

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Sure, the edges of the crust crumbled and fell off when I started to slice it and serve it, and the crust has a little more texture than it probably should. But it is, if I do say so myself, a rousing success. I have finally baked a pie.

I found the filling recipe on Epicurious and I love it–the orange really adds something unique and special to this pie. I did subsitute vanilla for the almond extract, and the blend of sweet vanilla, cinnamon, orange, and cherry is kind of mind-bogglingly good. Served alongside some Haagen-Daaz vanilla bean ice cream, I was in a sugar-induced state of ecstatic heavenly bliss. Mmm. Pie.

Pitting the cherries was an interesting experience. I really had no idea how to go about such a task without buying a cherry stoner. I did a little research online, and kept reading about using bent around paper clips, but that tactic didn’t work so well for me. I tried to use a paring knife, but it just took too long, and I had over two pounds of cherries to pit. Finally, I just decided to go for it and deal with purple hands and nails for the rest of the weekend—I dug in and used primarily my thumbs to try to pull out the pits without completely desecrating the poor cherries. After the first few handfuls it got easier and I managed to keep most of the cherries whole. It was uniquely satisfying, and I’m really, really glad I remembered to put on an apron.

Cherries

Rolling out the crust was much easier when I remembered to keep rotating it, so it didn’t get too stuck to the counter. I also remembered that you can pinch the dough back together very easily whenever it starts to crack and tear apart, and that helped immensely when I finally transferred the crust to the pie pan.

The woven lattice top was way easier than I was expecting, and other than that bit that fell in, it looks very impressive.  The Bon Appetit pie tutorial is definitely worth reading and all of their hints and tricks proved very useful.

Of course, now we have so much pie I’m not sure how we’re all going to eat it, unless we have pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all week. On second thought, that might not be so difficult, after all.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2007 10:33 am

    Your first cherry pie, and it’s gorgeous!

  2. December 24, 2009 7:37 am

    wOw!!! THAT is BEAUTIFUL!

    • January 1, 2010 3:18 pm

      Thanks! It was delicious, too. In fact, I can’t wait for summer so I can make it again.

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