A cherry pie routinely sat atop the counter that was created by the dishwasher. The kitchen appliance that appeared in my grandparent’s kitchen one random year because someone somewhere thought it necessary that two aging folks needed a dishwasher after 70 some years of living without one. It wasn’t the sort that is stationary and built into cupboard space. It was on wheels and needed to be rolled from its space between the fridge and the door leading to the second floor to the sink, blocking the circular path around the kitchen table. When not in use it sat below a chalkboard where grocery lists were written, doodles were doodled, and tomato bug killings were tallied – all requiring quite the reach once the dishwasher came into existence. I remember using the dishwasher for a single post-Christmas dinner and in reaching back to my childhood memory, it did not quicken the process of cleaning the kitchen prior to opening presents. I believe it fell from my grandma’s grace because it did not handle the healthy amount of iron that was in my grandparent’s water (they had well water and it turned anything white a magnificant orange and had a way of blocking and corroding pipes and lines). It eventually became another piece of furniture in the kitchen, another counter top. A place for pie.
I have been channeling grandma lately and come to think about it, this month marks two years of living without her and yet it seems so much longer most days. I think it is because her days of bustling around the kitchen were gone many years before she left this world. The kitchen is where I place her when I think of her; smelling of Joy dishsoap, her blouse wet from a constant dish washing ( yes, the dishwasher…), a cotton apron wrapped around her waist, and wearing once white tennis shoes older than any of her grandchildren- her feet were a constant bother and when you find a pair that causes minimal pain you hold on to them. With failing eyesight, her days in the kitchen, cooking and feeding her loved ones, were stolen from her but then again maybe she was okay passing that duty on to her daughters and myself. Letting go of her independence is what really pissed her off. Not being able to cook safely for herself really got her goat.
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold ( place in freezer for 10 minutes before beginning)
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- ¼ cup vodka, ice cold
- ¼ cup water, ice cold
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- extra sugar for sprinkling
- 1 Can (15oz) tart cherries in water
- 3-4 tablespoons corn starch
- ⅓ - ½ cup sugar (according to your sweet/tart tooth)
- pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Grate cold butter using largest holes and place in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Toss grated butter and vegetable shortening with flour mixture and using your fingers or a pastry cutter cut fats into flour mixture until butter and shortening pieces are about the size of small peas.
- Sprinkle vodka over mixture and toss with a fork. Repeat with cold water. Gather a bit of dough in your hand and gently squeeze- if it doesn't easily form into a ball then add an extra tablespoon of cold water. Once it can be formed into a ball then empty dough out onto a clean work surface and divide in two and gently knead into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. If at any point in time the butter begins to melt return the dough to the fridge for 10 minutes and then resume.
- While pie crust is resting in the refrigerator make the pie filling.
- In a small pan, combine all of the ingredients and place over medium-low heat stirring regularly until filling begins to thicken and is bubbly - it should be nearly as thick as canned filling. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When dough is ready and filling cool, assemble pies.
- Preheat oven to 400F and line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash.
- On a well floured surface, roll one of the pie dough discs out to about ¼ inch in thickness. Using a 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Re-roll out dough scraps until 12 rounds are cut from one disc.
- Place 6 rounds equal distance apart on prepared cookie sheet. Place a heaping tablespoon of cherry filling into the center of each round. With your finger, smear egg wash around the edges of each round.
- Gently stretch the remaining rounds with a rolling pin or your fingers and place atop the mounded cherry filling. With the tines of a fork, crimp together the bottom and top crust. A bit of filling will squeeze out. With a sharp knife, make small slits in tops of pies to allow steam to escape. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes prior to baking. If any time during the assembly process that the dough begins to become to warm and the butter starts to melt, return the dough to fridge for 10 minutes and then resume.
- Remove pies from fridge and brush with egg wash and sprinkle each pie with a pinch of sugar. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 -35 minutes until golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet.
- Repeat with second disc of dough as first batch is baking.
You will have extra pie filling and is perfect atop ice cream or cheesecake or yogurt...
Depending on the season and the warmth of your house - pie crust can be tricky but the fridge is your friend and if you are like me with warm hands sometimes a food processor is quite the life saver.