I made a cherry pie today. It’s been awhile.
I do a lot of baking and cooking, but I’m not exactly on conversational terms with pie. Or more specifically, pie dough. My mother did not bake at all. My grandmothers did, but pie was not part of their respective repertoires, other than those based on store-bought dough or easily made graham cracker crusts.
If you saw my cookbook collection, you would think I was a member of the Pie-A-Day-Not-A-Problem Club. I have books that specialize on American Southern cooking (where some of our finest pies originate), books on nothing but pie, and the ne plus ultra of pastry books, The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The pie I made today used one of Beranbaum’s crust recipes, a simple one of flour, shortening, salt and ice water.
I am forced to admit that I made up the filling from a combination of hope and what was in my fridge: fresh sweet cherries, sugar, a bit of water, almond extract and enough cornstarch to thicken the juice. I did not measure a thing, just thought that it looked like I had enough cherries to fill a nine-inch pie pan.
The filling was no problem. But I found out just how much pie dough and humidity hate each other. Sticky and stuck to everything it touched, even with a judicious dusting of flour, I had to piece and patch the dough top and bottom. The result was a fugly pie, with no nice fluted edges or perfectly cut center steam vent.
But it tasted fine. Cherries sweet enough and still firm, and the pie crust both crumbly and flaky, with the bottom crust not soggy from excess juice. Not bad for a pie blast from my past.