Cherry Pie

Cherries are a great friend to desserts. Whether plopped on top of an ice cream sundae or baked in a fruit tart, cherries are a juicy and distinguished flavor of fruit.

It's amazing how unique in flavor all berries are, and how versatile. There's just no way I could mix up a blueberry and a raspberry flavor. Cherries are the same way: their flavor is both totally unique and fantastic.

Naturally sweet, so many berries are delicious in raw form, baked in a sweet dish, or even used in a dinner (I've heard blackberries are great with roasts, and apples and pork are the dearest of meal friends). I recently posted about the fresh cherries I picked up and used in Cherry Balsamic Chicken. I only used a handful for that savory recipe, so I decided to use the rest in a dessert.


Now, I love dessert. And pies are the epitome of the fruit dessert and work great year round. Sure, certain pies are mainly for the holidays (don't get me wrong, I'll take a pumpkin pie any time of the year), but when you think about a summer picnic, fruit pies fit in just as well as they do in winter. I've played with some pie baking, and as a matter of fact my very first post described my novice experience with a homemade crust. Agave Apple Pie was one of my favorite (and most beautiful) baked treats, but I gotta tell ya, one of the best uses I ever had for a pie crust was my first Chicken Pot Pie. Whether dinner or dessert, pie is nothing short of great. For these cherries, it was time for the sweet stuff.

I took right about 4 cups of fresh cherries and cut them in half, removing the pits. I then mixed them with sugar, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla extract and let them sit for a few minutes. I had picked up this tip from the tapioca packaging - my guess is that allowing the tapioca to soak up some moisture before baking ensures they don't make into dry nuggets.

I poured the cherry mixture into my crust mixture and got working on the top layer.


I tried to get creative with the crust, slicing the top crust into strips and adding them as swirls to the top. It looked cute!


I brushed a little bit of milk over it so that the frisky would get a nice golden color.


Fresh is best. These cherries were so juicy that the pie ended up with a thick, chunky filling that held together well. I'm not so sure all the sugar I used was necessary. Though cherries are slightly tart when fresh, they also are sweet at the same time, so I could likely cut back on at least 1/4 cup of sugar if not 1/2 cup. If it tastes great without the addition, there's no reason to over-sweeten! Some fruits work better in baked goods when they come from a can, thanks to the softening effect of marinating in liquid for extended periods of time. I've heard this with peaches, for example. But the cherries were perfecto from fresh form. The nutmeg was a good fit - giving a subtle taste that reminds me of fall desserts. Nutmeg has become one of my dessert staples, and I'm glad I used it here. I'm definitely excited to further develop my pie crust skills; as you can see in the photo above, the glamour of the pie could use some improvement. I just love a well decorated pie. Coming next: blueberry!

Cherry Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

4 cups pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tapioca
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cherries, sugars, salt, tapioca, nutmeg, and vanilla in a medium bowl, then let sit for 5-10 minutes. Lie bottom layer of pie crust in a pan and use a fork to poke a few small holes in the bottom. Pour in filling, then top with another layer of crust. Bake for 45 minutes, checking occasionally to prevent the crust edges from burning. Cover with foil if necessary.

adapted from the better homes and gardens cookbook

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