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Monday February 24

Saturday, February 22 was our first president, George Washington’s, birthday.   As a kid we celebrated the birthday of early and significant presidents on their actual birth days and also had that day off from school, so the dates stick in my mind     As a child the story about Washington cutting down a cherry tree was common, hence my immediate connection, as a baker and dessert consumer, to CHERRY PIE.    You can follow that path right?!    Cherry pie traditionally is considered a summertime dessert since cherries are in season.   I make it for Thanksgiving sometimes, supporting the idea that pumpkin and cherry pies are perfect examples of universally enjoyed pies which should be made more often.   When you have a urge for a specific item you should satisfy it, but plan ahead, keep a well stocked pantry!

Before we get to the pie,  I share with you a link to historic Washington myths http://mountvernon.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/did-george-washington-chop-down-a-cherry-tree, which includes that story about a cherry tree, telling a lie and teeth!

So, I freely admit I do not make cherry pie often, since I don’t have a cherry tree in my yard ( have you ever pitted cherries?) and canned cherries are expensive.  Frozen would a better choice over canned possibly.  Last time I had the urge to roll out  this spectacular pie, the stores I ran into had bare sections on the shelves rather than the cans of the delightful round red orb.  Obviously someone had cherry pie on their mind(s)!   I digress ……. I remember standing at the stove in my teens years stirring the pot waiting for the cornstarch cherry juice mixture to change from an opaque milky red liquid to the thick red clear filling.  Exciting!   I do love cherry pie, with a hint of almond extract and / or cloves and cinnamon.  YUM!   Go for it….

Recipe photo

Here is a basic tart cherry pie recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour  ( this recipe uses tapioca instead of cornstarch so you won’t be standing at the stove!):

One double pie crust
5 to 6 cups sour cherries;  3 water packed cans or individually quick frozen or bagged frozen tart cherries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, optional … I skip this with no discernible difference

Divide the dough in half, roll one half into a 13″ circle ( I eyeball the diameter)  then fit into the 9″ pie pan, leaving edges hanging until filling and top crust are added.

Drain liquid from cans of cherries, reserve liquid from one or more to equal 2/3 cup.

Place the cherries and reserved liquid in a large mixing bowl.

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca.   Stir into the cherries until everything is evenly combined.

Let the filling sit for 20 minutes to soften the tapioca, before using it to fill the pie shell.    Stir in the almond extract and salt.  

Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pan and dot with butter, if used.

Roll out the second crust.  Cut into 1/2″ strips and add alternating in direction and over- underlapping for a LATTICE top  OR

place it on top of the filling as 1 piece and decorate as you wish.  Cut few rounds for cherries, leaves & stems, etc into the top to vent steam   OR

vent with slits and add a few extra decorative pieces on top of crust

Squeeze to seal the top and bottom crusts together, fluting with fingers or fork.

Place the pie on a baking sheet in case the pie spills during baking and bake in preheated 425°F oven – 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

Remove the pie from oven,  cool on a rack before slicing, if you can wait, so the filling sets up.   Serves 6 – 10 depending on how generous your cuts are!

ENJOY!   Please think of George with the first bite!

Mangia.     Enjoy life, family and food!

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