Sunday, July 17, 2011

PIE #34 - Cheater Cherry Pie

I cannot tell a lie. I do not like cherry pie. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't include a cherry pie in my blog. It's practically as American as apple pie. It's a shame, actually, that I don't like cherries because Flathead cherry orchards thrive here in Northwestern Montana. Because the cherry season is short, I am seizing the opportunity to feature this pie and to appease my cherry-loving friends.

My attempt at making cherry pie was the pits. Literally. Because I don't own a cherry pitter and certainly don't plan to invest in one considering my lack of enthusiasm for cherries, I experimented pitting the fruit using a wine bottle and a chopstick. I read about this in Cooks Illustrated magazine and thought I'd give it a try:

Remove the stem from a cherry and place right side up on the rim of an empty wine bottle. Impale center of cherry with the pointy end of a chopstick, then take the blunt end of the chopstick and ram it through the cherry. The pit will fall into the bottle leaving the now pitless cherry perched atop.

I spent thirty minutes stabbing and jabbing, samurai chef style. Afterwards, my kitchen looked like a grisly murder scene. Mutilated cherry carcasses lay in a heap on my counter. Errant cherry juice was splattered on my walls and all over the front of my apron. My fingers were stained blood red. Yes, truly the pits.

The thought of having to whip up a pastry crust with a fancy lattice top was just too overwhelming after my "pit-iful" experience. Having heard how convenient those frozen pie shells and refrigerated pie crusts were, I decided to give them a try. It felt almost sacrilegious to succumb to store-bought pastry. I envisioned Miss Miranda shaking her head, wagging her finger, and saying "tsk, tsk".

I experimented with another shortcut by using a lattice roller given to me by a friend. By simply rolling the wheel across pie dough, a lattice design forms once the crust is positioned. Easier said than done although with a great deal of concentration and maneuvering, the lattice top looked pretty enough. And truth be known, store bought crusts aren't bad at all. But even a pie novice like me can tell you, homemade tastes much better!

So I present to you my cheater cherry pie: pre-made crust, shortcut lattice, and canned cherries (my pitted ones started turning brown!). It's definitely not my most successful pie and it's certainly not my favorite, but it can be thrown together in a pinch and eaten warm from the oven.

Frozen deep dish pie shell (thawed)
1 refrigerated pie crust

1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cans (16 ounces each) pitted red tart cherries, drained
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix sugar and flour. Stir in cherries and almond extract. Turn into pie shell. Dot with butter. Unroll refrigerated crust. If desired, cut into 8 1 1/4-inch strips and place in lattice formation on top of cherry filling. Or simply place crust atop filling and cut slits into the crust using a small knife. Seal and flute. Cover edge with 2-3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, 35-45 minutes.

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