Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Calling All Cherry Pie Bakers...

...novice pie maker desperately needs your help!

Egads, I attempted my first cherry pie this week, and although it tasted divine, it was the ugly duckling of the pie world! Not to mention the soggy bottom crust, the burnt-in-some-places, raw-in-others top crust. Oh, and then there was the tapioca that I thought would magically dissolve in the oven, but didn't. (WAY not pretty!)

Cherry pie baking experts are probably turning over in their graves all over the country (you know, the deceased ones).

I had heard Trader Joe's morello cherries were perfect for pie, so I started with those. An internet search turned up a recipe on Ivillage's Garden Web. I monkeyed with it a bit and ended up the recipe below.

Let me walk you through the disasters one by one. I'll start with... the tapioca. I used small pearl tapioca. After baking, the filling ended up looking pretty much like it does in the "before" shot, except it wasn't liquidy. I guess it was somewhat set. But it was not attractive. Is there some other version of tapioca?

Next, the edge. On my very first pie ever (which was, like, two pies ago), I cut the crust flush with the edge of the pie plate, then scrunched the edges, and it ended up shrinking. So this time, I cut it maybe 1/2-inch past the edge of the plate and scrunched it. To my dismay, part of it ended up falling off. Ugh!

Up next is the undercooked in the middle, but burnt on the edges top crust. SOOOO not winning any county fairs with this one.

If you can help, I'd love to know how to improve this to the point where I won't be completely embarrassed to take it out in public. It did taste good.

Not So Pretty Cherry Pie
(Bake at your own risk)

2 Jars Trader Joe's Morello cherries (about 5-6 cups), drained, liquid reserved
2/3 C. reserved cherry liquid
3 T. small pearl tapioca
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. almond extract
1 t. lemon juice
1 C. sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 T. butter

Drain cherries. Add 2/3 c. liquid into mixing bowl. Add tapioca, salt, almond extract, lemon juice, then cherries and sugar. Mix and let stand while making pastry.

Fit pastry into bottom of 9" pie pan. Trim 1/2" beyond outer rim of pan. Fill with cherry mixture. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Moisten rim with water.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.

As a consolation, I did think this little guy was cute :)

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