Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pie Crust, Cherry Pie and Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

These recipes are for 9" pies- the crust recipe is at the bottom of the post.

Last week when I was taking the boys to piano lessons some kids were selling bags of pie cherries. I got 6 qt bags for $5. I had to buy a pitter though- so asked Brian to buy one after work one day. They didn't have them at Alberton's, so I had him go to Linens 'n Things (since it was the only place I could think of that would have one for sure)... he got what they had- which was $12! But it's much nicer than the old ones I remember using and it had a "splatter guard", which worked ok. Around my work station was still messy with cherry splatter-- but certainly not as much as it would have been with the old cheap cherry pitter, so I was happy with it.
Out of all those cherries- we made 1 batch of jam and 3 pies. Next time I will reduce the amount of cherries in the pie, I think I could have made 4 pies out of it and it would have been just the right amount of cherries.
I baked one that night and froze the other two... I ran out of parchment paper, so those 2 are absolutely stuck in the pie plates until I bake them. Thankfully, my mom gave me 4 extra pie plates, so it will be ok if I leave one frozen until Thanksgiving. I don't know if we have enough self-control to save both of them for that long!

Homemade cherry pie is so much better than the canned cherry pie filling. Granted, I'll eat that and enjoy it-- but not as much as these. And Brian and Jesse who don't care for cherry pie, will gobble down a homemade one.

Cherry Pie Filling
3 c. pitted sour cherries (4 c. if you like alot of fruit)
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 TB butter
1/4 tsp almond extract

Place the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium size non-aluminum saucepan. Allow the mixture to stand until the cherries are moistened with the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat; simmer for 1 minute, or until the juices thicken and become translucent. Remove pan from heat, and stir in butter and almond extract. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Cover with top crust.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Since the oven was going to be on- I wanted to make good use of it and not just have it on for 1 pie. Plus, I had a friend helping me-- so I needed to make use of her too! (Thanks Laura!) We decided to mix up a strawberry-rhubarb pie as well. Too bad I didn't have enough rhubarb to freeze a couple of those for later!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

1 1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
2 c. chopped rhubarb
2 c. chopped strawberries
1 1/2 TB butter

Mix sugar and flour, pour into strawberries and rhubarb and mix all together. Pour into pie crust, dot with butter and put on the top crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 to 50 min.

Because I baked both pies at the same time- I had the oven set for 425 degrees and baked the strawberry-rhubarb pie for about 20 minutes, then put in the cherry pie and turned the oven down to 375 degrees and baked for 45 minutes and then took them both out at once. They were both done perfectly and the edges of the crust weren't over-brown. (I didn't even wrap them in foil!)

Pie Crust
For 1 two-crusted pie (9") or 2 one-crust pie (9")
2 c. white flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. oil (olive oil works fine)
1/2 c. cold water
Mix thoroughly with fork and then knead with your hands. Split into 2 equal portions.

To roll out:
Get your hand wet and spread the water on the counter. Top it with a sheet of wax or parchment paper*. Place one "ball" of dough onto the middle of the paper and put another sheet of paper over it. Roll with a rolling pin in all directions to make a circle of dough. You can hold your pie plate over the top to get an idea of the size you need to make it. You want the dough to hang off the edge of the pie plate a bit.
When it's big enough, take the top paper off and set aside, slid your hand under the bottom paper and center the dough on the inside of your pie plate. Set it on the counter and press the dough into the corners of the pie plate while pulling the paper away from the dough.
You can trim it before or after you have your filling in and the top crust on. Don't make a decorative edge until you have both crusts on though, unless you are making a 1-crust pie. Here are some good directions on making a decorative edge. And if you don't want to put in much work- just pinch the top and bottom crusts together a bit and call it good-- taste the same! :-)
*Wax paper and parchment paper:
Wax paper will stick to a wet counter and stay in place, but parchment paper is easier to peel away from the dough.

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