Is there anyone who doesn’t love cherries? I have to buy them in quite small quantities because otherwise I could eat more than is good for me. There is such an abundance of delicious fruit at this time of year, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, peaches, nectarines… the list goes on. But the best of all are English cherries. (Turkish cherries are also pretty good in my opinion, but think of the air miles 😦 )
I have a memory from childhood of eating cherries on a picnic with my family, including my grandmother. My sisters and I had a fun time trying to spit the cherry stones/pits as far as we could. My grandmother never said a word. But later, when the snapshots of the day came back from the chemist (yes – I am talking about the true olden days here!) there was a hilarious picture of us in full spitting mode, and my grandmother looking very disapproving as she sat on the bench! I don’t imagine we could spit them far – and who knew that there are cherry pit spitting world championships, and the record for the longest ‘spit’ is 28.5 m or 93 ft 6.5 inches set in 2004! Whaaat???!!
But wait a minute – this post is not about those delicious dessert cherries that are better than any sweeties. It’s about the sour variety, sometimes known as morello, or in the US Montmorency cherries are a widespread sour variety I think. I have a friend, and loyal supporter too, who has a sour cherry tree in her garden. Margaret was kind enough to give me some cherries from her tree this week. I’ve had pie on my mind for a couple of weeks, and sour cherries make good pies. So pie it was! I consulted the oracle of American baking (otherwise known as Joy of Cooking) for hints and tips on making a classic cherry pie. I am not saying we can’t make amazing pies here in the UK, but pie is somehow very American isn’t it?
Now, I am sorry to all my vegetarian and vegan readers but the best tasting flaky pastry just has to be made with a combination of butter and lard. I’m sure that there are some good vegetarian/vegan cooking fats out there, but I just prefer the taste and texture of pastry made with animal fats – sorry! I made the pastry and left it in the fridge overnight just chillin’.
I stoned the cherries with a cherry stoner – you don’t need such a thing (Margaret tells me she uses the tip of a potato peeler), but being a cherry fanatic I have had one in the drawer for years.
Here’s a little haiku I wrote called Stoning Cherries
Scarlet pink dark red
Cherry juice explodes and drips
Staining my fingers
Seriously – there was cherry juice everywhere – over the counter top, on the floor, on the cupboard doors!
Then I mixed the cherries with some sugar, cornflour (to thicken the juices) a little squeeze of lemon juice, and a drop of almond essence. While it sat for a bit (not too long though – you don’t want the juices to run too much), I rolled out the pastry and lined a couple of individual pie tins. I brushed the pastry with beaten egg before filling with the cherry mixture and adding the pastry lids. Egg wash the top and sprinkle with sugar and pop in a hot oven to bake. Oh my days – the smell of baking pies! Yum!
Cherry pie for dinner! Thank you Margaret!