Cherry tree in bloom
Finally some fresh fruit!
Cherries are the first local fresh fruit to come ripe in the spring - if you're really eating local, this will be the first fresh fruit that's not apples or pears you've seen since the huckleberries last August! By May, you'll be really glad to see cherries!
This is a sweet cherry pie, so you just make it with the regular cherries they sell at the store or at the farmer's market. Canned cherry pie filling is made from sour cherries, but those are hard to find fresh.
How to make a cherry pie:
First, while you are feeling enthusiastic, pit the cherries (this is the hardest part). Use a paring knife, cut the cherries in half, and get the kids to sit and help you if possible. Even if they don't help much, company will make the work go faster. Compost the pits and stems, and throw the pitted cherries into a bowl. You want about 5 cups of pitted, halved cherries.
Next make the crust: in a medium size mixing bowl, melt a stick of butter in the microwave. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix, adding a couple of spoonfuls of water if you need to, to make the crust stick together. Turn out 2/3 of the crust into a pie pan and spread it around with your fingers to cover the bottom and sides. Leave the rest of the crust in the bowl, and cover it with a dishcloth. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Now make the filling: in the bowl with the cherries, add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, and the juice of half a lemon, and mix until all the cherries have sugar/lemon/flour on them. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Now make the top crust: mix the remaining crust with crumbled hazelnuts or almonds. (You can pound them in a mortar and pestle, or put them in a plastic bag and roll the rolling pin over them.) Crumble the nut-crust over the top of the pie, and put four or five pats of butter on top of that to help brown the top crust. Bake with a baking sheet under the piepan to catch any leaks. When you put the pie in, reduce the heat to 350 F, and cook at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the filling is thick and bubbly. If the crust doesn't brown, run it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn.
Vegetarian or Vegan?
Vegetarian, but you can make cherry pie vegan by using olive oil instead of butter in the crust, and leaving out the pats of butter on top. You could use almond oil or walnut oil drizzled on top instead, but really there's enough oil in the crushed nuts already.
Will it keep?
Yes, for a day or two on the counter covered with a dishcloth, or for a few more days in the refrigerator, if you keep it sealed up, wrapped in plastic.
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