A recent Facebook post asked “What food makes you think of your Dad? My first response was rootbeer. That, however, is not actually food but rather a beverage. The food choice has to be cherry pie. It was his favorite, but he didn’t consume it on a regular basis as the contents didn’t actually sit well in his stomach. You can tell how much he loved it by still asking for it. I know, too much information! To get back on track, it is also the cherry season in Wisconsin, the land of my birth. You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take Wisconsin out of the girl. We love our pie in Wisconsin.,
My Dad was a special man. He was a successful doctor–general practitioner and surgeon. He started the first amputee clinic in Wisconsin. During World War II he was a naval physician on a ship in the Pacific. When the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, they were only told 30 minutes ahead of time to “not look”. Their ship followed MacCarthur’s into port to sign the armistice. He taught us all to swim and ski. He was a lifeguard and ski jumper in his youth. None of us followed him in that direction, but I was a ski instructor in my teens and twenties. He was a scratch golfer and a great bowler. My brother followed him in those pursuits becoming a Golf Professional. Jules loved fishing and hunting and loved coming home to my mom’s great meals that always included dessert. If he wasn’t delivering babies on the weekend he frequently made us all pancakes. I don’t remember him ever making anything else. A sandwich, made by my mom, was not considered lunch unless it included a dill pickle. He was focused on being a great family doctor and providing for his family. My Dad took pride in his children’s achievements, attending the many and varied sporting, dramatic, choral, and scholastic events of his 4 children. He died 30 years ago.
It turns out that cherry pie is also my daughter-in-law’s favorite. She asked for it for her birthday this month in lieu of cake. Being busy professionals, my son is buying her birthday pie at a favorite bakery in Atlanta. I will surprise her with another one when we visit later this month.
I am pretty sure that my mom used canned cherry pie filling when I was growing up. After all, I was a child of the 60s and 70s when canned food ruled. Wisconsin has a short growing season for fruits and vegetables. We lived on the western side of the state so we didn’t have access to the freshly picked cherries of Door County. I will make a point to visit Door County for the cherry season in a couple of years. In the meantime, the supermarkets are stocked with cherries this time of year so here you have it–Cherry Pie made with fresh cherries and a secret ingredient.
Cherry Pie Nostalgia–J is for Jules, My Dad
I can't have fresh cherry pie without a homemade crust. It is really not difficult to make and can be made ahead of time and kept frozen until ready. You can make it in a food processor or cut the shortening in with 2 knives. My mom and sister always use lard, but I prefer white vegetable shortening. That will also keep it Vegan. I also prefer a Tablespoon of vinegar in the crust instead of lemon for a flakier crust. Now you have my secrets. Let's bake a pie or two. One for now and maybe another one for later. You can assemble your whole cherry pie or single-serve tins then freeze them without baking. Just remove from the freezer when needed and bake from frozen in a preheated oven.
Pie Filling Instructions
Wash, stem and remove the stones from 2 pounds of cherries. This will give you about 5 cups of stoned cherries
Combine the cherries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium heat and stir until mixture is thickened. This could take a couple of minutes up to 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the teaspoon of almond extract. Don't worry. It won't taste like almond, it just heightens the flavor of the cherries. That's why I call it a secret ingredient! Allow to cool to room temperature.If your cherries are very dry you can add some water to the mixture before cooking. If you are making this in season in the summer you shouldn't need much. If your mixture sticks to the pan, you can turn the heat to low and add a little water.
Pie Crust Instructions
In a food processor combine flour, salt, vegetable shortening with 5 short pulses. Add the water and vinegar and pulse 2 or 3 times to form a dough.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Pat into rounds. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Roll out one crust at a time.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the rack to below center of the oven.
Place the first crust in a pie dish, mine is 9-inch in diameter. Allow the crust to spread over the edges and trim to an equal amount of overhang. Refrigerate until the filling is cooled.
Place the cooled cherry filling in the bottom pie crust.
Roll out the top crust. Cut it to fit the top of the pie plate including the edge. Fold the bottom crust over the top edge and pinch to seal and decorate. You could also use a fork to seal the edges. Cut an opening in the top to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Bake the pie for 45-50 minutes until golden on a lower shelf of the oven to allow the bottom crust to crisp. Remove to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Serve the pie with a slice of cheddar cheese (as 2 crust fruit pies are frequently served in Wisconsin). Ice cream or whipped cream would also be perfect. In the UK, custard or pouring cream wouldn't be refused.Here's thinking of you, Dad!