As I may have mentioned previously, I’ve become a bit of a pie fanatic in the last almost-four years. I found and have used over and over again three pie recipes that are SO easy and are major crowd pleasers–blueberry pie, cherry pie, and a no-cook chocolate pie. Today, we address that most cheerful of pies, the cherry pie. What makes a cherry pie so cheerful, you ask? Why, it’s red! It’s often associated with cheerful holidays, like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. Warrant sang a song about it and named an album after it, kind of. Most importantly, it doesn’t contribute to global warming, like so many other pies do.
Why so much emphasis on pie, you might ask. I say, what would you rather focus on in life–the idiots on 24-hour news stations who refuse to shut up or pie? The gas mileage of your car or pie? Your upcoming colonoscopy or pie? The weird toenail on your left foot or pie?
This morning, I got on one of those weird Internet kicks where I was clicking links that would take me to other links and then other links, and I was like, “Hey, there’s what’s-her-face from That’s Incredible! A woman who eats her own hair? How does that even work? What is a SoulPancake? What’s Rainn Wilson up to these days? Oh, he’s up to SoulPancake. Ohmygod, I’ve got to have one of those mops. iPhone 5s? When? Where does Ellen get her jeans? I need new shoes. What’s the special value on QVC today?” And, eventually, that led to me watching a video on YouTube of Steve Carell on Ellen, and they were talking about Christmas, and then he said he was excited that year because he wanted to make a pie. And I was like, “Hells, yes! I’ve got a pie for you, Steve Carell!”
This development ties in nicely with my recent obsession with re-watching all nine seasons of The Office on Hulu Plus. So here we are.
Please note: The pictures I’m using for this post are those that I took the very first Thanksgiving I became pie-obsessed in 2008. For some reason, I decided to document my pie journey that year, which works out nicely for me almost five years later, as I have no cherries with which to make a fresh pie today. It’s fine, though, as you’ll be able to see how I was able to make the pies so easily on my very first try. Although I AM awesome, in general, the pies are also very easy.
Grandma’s Easy Cherry Pie (not MY grandma . . . some random Internet grandma who makes kick-ass pies)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3 cans of Oregon red tart cherries in water (NOT syrup!)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons of minute tapioca (I use 2 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch, instead, because who keeps minute tapioca in the house? It’s a 1:1 substitution ratio.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted (I use real butter for everything I bake. It just smells and tastes better.)
As I’ve mentioned previously, I use a crust recipe that my Grandma Oleson used to use, and it is SO EASY. It is SO much easier than a traditional roll-out crust and is delicious.
Bottom crust: 1 stick salted butter, 1 cup flour, and a dash of salt
Top crust: 1 stick slightly softened salted butter, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar
And, now, the process!
First, melt a stick of butter in the pie pan. I use glass pans, so I can melt the butter in the pan in the microwave; it takes about 1.5 minutes. If you use metal tins, you can melt the butter in the tin on the range.
Once the butter is melted, add the flour and the salt.
Mix together with fork until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
Then, pat it out so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pie pan.
As you can tell if you compare this bottom crust with the one I made for the blueberry pie, the bottom crust will vary in texture and moisture content, as it depends on the brand of butter you use, the brand of flour you use, etc. Don’t be alarmed–it will bake up fine, regardless. Unless you’ve been a bad person lately. Then it will suck, as you no doubt deserve. Pie karma.
Drain the three cans of cherries thoroughly, either by dumping them out into a colander or, after opening the cans, by squishing the can lids down and flipping the cans upside down (holding the cherries in the can with the squished-down lid) in the sink. I prefer the second method, as it makes me feel like a real chef. I also hate washing colanders. Please, don’t dump the cherries into the sink. It’s not where they belong.
In a large bowl, dump in the cherries and the rest of the filling ingredients and mix them all together, gently but thoroughly, with a large spoon.
Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.
Now it’s time for the top crust! To start, blend the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Cut up slightly softened salted butter into the mixture and then blend, using a pastry blender, until crumbly.
(I have to recycle the blueberry pie top crust mixture picture . . . 2008 Missy was apparently too lazy to take a picture of that part of the process.)
Then, sprinkle crumble crust over the cherries, covering thoroughly.
When you’ve covered the cherries thoroughly with the top crust crumbles, put the pie in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. When it’s done, it will look something like this:
I apologize for the poor quality of the “after” pics, as it’s usually about 2 a.m. when I finish the pies the night before Thanksgiving. Because I procrastinate horribly. (For example, I was supposed to post this review last week.)
And that’s it–it’s that easy! Although baking anything for the very first time isn’t terribly efficient, it’s possible to get one (or two) of these cherries pies completed and baked in just over an hour, especially after you’ve done it a time or two. So, for that reason alone, they’re perfect for unexpected company or for any summer or holiday evening when you want warm cherry pie topped with cold vanilla ice cream. It’s an on-a-whim pie, and how many pies can you say that about? (Besides the blueberry pie, I mean.) So, go bake one right now! Right now!
Addendum, re: gluten-free pies: It is not only possible but easy to modify this recipe so that it’s gluten-free. It’s easiest to buy the gluten-free pie shells (for the bottom crust) at Whole Foods and then to make the top crumble crust using the King Arthur gluten-free multi-purpose flour instead of regular flour. Told you it was easy.