My first cherry pie.
This summer has been full of pies, and I expect I’m not quite done yet as I’ve promised a friend a peach pie for her September birthday. The peach pie will be the sixth pie of the summer, and I think that’s a nice round number. I’m sure there will be apple pies and sweet potato pies and the like in autumn, but we’ll take those when they come.
To kick off the pie making, we celebrated the 4th of July by having dinner with the family of my good friend from college, to which my contribution was a cherry pie. I had planned to make a peach pie, knowing that was a favorite of our host, but the folks at the fruit stand assured me that the only local peaches good for pie-making didn’t ripen until later in the summer. Despite my best efforts to seek assurances that the peaches they sold for eating fresh would be fine in pies, they held steady and advised me to go with their fresh tart cherries. I wasn’t a hard sell; cherry pie is my favorite. Knowing that tart fresh cherries are hard to find and wouldn’t be available long, I took the plunge and snapped up ten quarts, enough for five pies. Two of those quarts I made into a delicious pie, and eight of those quarts I pitted and froze for use later in the year.
Despite what we might assume about pie, it wasn’t a given that the cherry pie would be delicious. Mostly because I have been experimenting with whole wheat crusts and wasn’t entirely sure how that was going to turn out. Using the newly widely available Organic White Whole Wheat flour from King Arthur, I can say that their ‘just like white flour but brown!’ advertising is truthful. Unlike with traditional whole wheat flour, the white whole wheat flour performs pretty much the same in recipes; it has a subtly different taste, but it’s not as grainy or flat as replacement with traditional whole wheat flour tends to be. It’s more brown, which bothers some people but I personally like. I’ve also discovered that the crust recipe I use is perfectly suited for assembly in a food processor, which boosts the performance of the wheat flour as the dough is only minimally handled. The other factor in the cherry pie, which wasn’t likely to impact the taste, was the lattice top, another first for me. I went, shall we say, rustic with it: I made the strips of dough wider and included fewer of them, making the whole lattice assembly go more quickly and easily. In the end, of course, it was a delicious homemade cherry pie and nobody noticed any of the things I’d worried about (the above plus my concern that there was more juice than there should have been in the filling and my overcompensating by adding in some tapioca).
Following the cherry pie success, I made an apricot-ginger pie just because the fruit folks had fresh apricots that reminded me of the tree my grandparents used to have at the side of their house. That pie was ok — it was a homemade pie — but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy apricots again in the future. If I had a tree in my yard, the pie would be a perfectly reasonable way of using them if I weren’t planning to spend hours making jam. Since I don’t, it was a good experiment that I fed mostly to my partner’s weekly gaming crew.
After a lull in pie-making during which we traveled around and recovered from being ill, I made three blueberry pies in the course of a couple of weeks. In the past I’ve been loathe to use the fresh blueberries for pies, but by the time they make it back to our fridge the oldest ones are invariably starting to wilt a bit, making them ideal for baking. Blueberry pies are always an appreciated contribution to a dinner with friends, which was the destiny of two of the pies, and a handy way to welcome new neighbors, which was the destiny of a portion of the third pie. Not all pies get more tasty after a day in the fridge, but I find that my favorites typically do: cherry, apple and blueberry (now you know).
In the course of all this pie-making and transporting, I had the opportunity to use my handy pie carrier — for which I was heartily mocked last year when I purchased it, I must say, the phrase of choice being something like ‘how often are you taking a pie somewhere really?’ I still think it’s one of the best investments of $8 I’ve made for the house, and have found that almost every time I make a pie it’s headed to someone else’s house. I was, though, disappointed to discover that the crust guard I received as a gift a couple of years ago doesn’t fit on my large pie plates, but I’m hopeful that it will still fit on the smaller metal one. And, I can continue to heartily recommend the Williams-Sonoma Pie and Tart cookbook, as the blueberry and apricot-ginger recipes came from them (the cherry pie recipe did not, but instead from Bon Appétit via the internet, as the Williams-Sonoma recipe called for canned cherries).
Pie never lasts long at our house.