Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Long Road to a Cherry Pie

I want to make a cherry pie for Easter.  I also hope to make an apple pie.  Or maybe two of each.  We shall see.
The origin of the cherry pie idea comes from my son, Matt.  Two years ago, my sister, Rachel, got married in Washington State on Matt's birthday.  When we got home I asked Matt if he wanted a special birthday meal, since he didn't really have anything special (except a trip to Washington and a very cool campground) for his birthday.

Well, a cherry pie couldn't be too difficult, could it?

Let me first say that I come from a family of pie snobs.  No offense, Mom, but from my youngest days, I remember pie crust analysis.  "This one is pretty good."  "It's not as good as Aunt Clara's this time."  "So-n-so used a frozen crust for her pie."  And so on.

Besides this, Mom would never have used canned pie filling.  The only possibility I can even imagine for her using cherry pie filling might have been some sort of fluffy salad for a funeral or something.  But I can honestly say that I have no real recollection of her ever having canned pie filling in our home.

But we did live in Washington State, with ready access to fresh cherries each summer.  So not only did we get cherry pies when the cherries were in season, but we had a ready supply of them in the freezer for use throughout the winter.

Another consideration is that I myself have a particular aversion to cherry pie filling from a can.  Although seemingly a popular use, in my opinion, there is no better way to ruin a cheesecake than to spread that thick, slimy stuff over it.

And finally, as if I need another deterrent, since I bake gluten free, the idea of a beautiful pastry with the light and crumbly layers falling onto a fork is a thing of the past.  I've used several different recipes for Gluten Free piecrust, and although many are very tasty, there is nothing that equals my childhood piecrust memories.

So with all these qualifications hanging over my head, even though it's been a year and a half since Aunt Rachel's wedding, I've still not made Matt his cherry pie.  I've periodically thought of it.  I've scoured the freezer sections of local groceries looking for sour cherries.  Lingonberries from Sweden, yes, for $7/pound.  But sour cherries?  Sorry, no.  I've searched the internet for sources for frozen sour cherries.  There are a few.  But the price is always prohibitive.  I love you Matt, but your pie is not worth that much.

So the other day, I saw sweet cherries in the freezer section of Wal-Mart and I grabbed two bags.  I said to myself, "If I wait until I find sour cherries, Matt is going to be an old man.  Just bite the bullet, Mary, and make a different kind of pie than those of your memories."

Now, after all that, what do you think I saw in Wal-mart the very next time I was there?  An end display off all sorts of canned fruits suitable for pie making.  I never even considered that they might sell canned cherries without the thick, slimy stuff.  Peaches, pears, applesauce and fruit cocktail.  Yes, those I've seen.   And yes, Mom, I've even purchased them on rare occasions, since Minnesotans do not have the ready access to fruit to put up for the winter that Washingtonians do.  But since these canned fruits are nothing I use on a regular basis, I don't generally even go down that aisle.  I had no idea how many different kinds of canned fruits were available.  Berries and apricots, among others, and to my great pleasure, sour cherries for pie.

I tucked four cans quickly into my cart and finished my shopping with a lighter heart.

So this morning, I spent an hour or so searching for just the right combination of Gluten free crust and cherry filling.

What I came up with is based mostly upon the recipes at The Art of Gluten Free Baking.  The author has an entry particularly on crust making, one for cherry pie, and one for apple pie in which she includes two variations.  Incidentally, the crust recipe has been adapted from one by Lynne Rosetto Kasper of The Splendid Table, the cooking show Joe listens to every Sunday as he's getting ready for church.

I'll post later, if they turn out well.  Maybe I'll even have Joe or one of the kids take a photo for me to include.

Or maybe that's a little too optimistic...

Update, 11/25/11.  I can't believe it took me almost seven months to get this link up.  Here is A Long Road to Cherry Pie, Part II.

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