Why am I writing about Thanksgiving in the month of July? It is almost 6 months from now. I write because – if it was possible – my entire year would revolve around Thanksgiving. It is hands down my favorite holiday of the year. It is a time to give thanks rather than gifts. A time to celebrate our relationships with family and friends. And of course there is food involved. This is the one time of year when I go a tad [ahem] overboard on the cooking front. That is, if you consider 14 pies, turkey 3 ways (roasted, smoked and fried), a ton of sides, and an entire menu of vegan options thrown in for good measure to be overboard. It’s all Love to me!
Cherries. This is what brings me to pondering the next Turkey Day and causes me to salivate while reminiscing about past celebrations. Last week I walked into my local Whole Foods and saw organic cherries. Fresh. Greeting me as I passed through the entrance; daring me to only grab one pound. I bought 4 1/2 pounds, thank you very much!
When I see fresh, sweet, organic cherries I think ‘Cherry Pie’. It is one of the favorites around here come Turkey Day. I buy sweet, red cherries at the peak of the season, perfectly ripe. I pit them myself with my favorite cherry pitter by Oxo. I should have taken a photo of my hands when I was done (Note to self: latex gloves). Then I freeze them. Four and a half cups of pitted cherries goes into each pie. The recipe I use is called ‘Double Cherry Pie’ because it also has 1 cup of dried tart cherries mixed in.
*The actual recipe (see below) also calls for Tart Cherries rather than Sweet; however, I have never seen them fresh around here, so I use sweet cherries and cut out some of the sugar.
In my freezer right this very moment I have enough cherries to make two Double Cherry Pies. There were enough left over to make a recipe of Brandied Cherries (stay tuned for that tomorrow!). AND, I have another 2 pounds I bought yesterday to pit. I will use some of them now, the rest will also go into the freezer for future recipes.
Because one can never have too many cherries, eh?
Double Cherry Pie
- 1 double pie crust recipe – your choice. I use a cream cheese pastry
- 4.5 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh, individually frozen (not packed in syrup; partially thawed), or canned drained. NOTE: If using sweet cherries add 1 T lemon juice and reduce overall sugar in recipe
- 1 cup dried sour cherries
- 1 cup of sugar; NOTE: If using sweet cherries only use 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 T quick-cooking tapioca
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, freshly ground is best
- 1 T cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
**Preheat the oven to 375 F with the rack in the center of the oven. I like to place a large baking sheet on the rack below to catch any juices that might overflow from the pie so it won’t mess up the bottom of my oven. Or sometimes I place the pie directly on the baking sheet (as an alternative). Either way makes clean up that much easier.
Roll the larger portion of the pastry into a 13″ circle and tuck into a deep 9.5″ pie pan, letting the overhang drape over the edge. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Combine the pitted cherries, dried cherries, sugar, tapioca, and almond extract in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes to juice.
Roll the other half of the pastry into a 10″ circle. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell, leveling out the mixture. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the fruit and dot the filling with the butter. Moisten the edge of the pie crust with some water (use a pastry brush). Invert the top pastry over the filling, center it, and press the top and bottom together along the dampened edge. Using a knife, trim the pastry and crimp into whatever decorative edging pattern you like. If desired, you can glaze the pie with a little milk and sprinkle lightly with some sugar.
Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, rotate the pie 180 degrees, placing foil over the edges if they are getting too dark. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the juices bubble up thickly through the steam vents.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 2 hours. This is best eaten warm or at room temperature.