1) sour cherries make the best cherry pie, and,
2) Crisco makes the flakiest pie crust.
Both of things have proven to be true over the years. And while the short sour cherry season sure makes it inconvenient for making pies whenever you feel like it, they are certainly worth the search.
You and I both know that Crisco may make the flakiest pie crust, but it sure is a pain to clean up after. So for today's post, I veered from my momma's classic pie crust dough (sorry, Mom) and tried a variant -- the fat comes exclusively from butter (versus Crisco), and the entire dough can be put together in a mixer, rather than requiring ice cold butter being cut into Crisco. Again, a pie dough with actual fat (Crisco or lard or whatever) is going to have a completely different texture, just because of the type of fat you are using. But, if you want to put together something quickly and without needing to soak your Crisco-coated utensils in hot, soapy water for days, this may be a good option for you! What is mentioned here is basically a form of what's known as pate brisee.
Penzey's Pie Dough
3/4 lb butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3-6 T milk
Combine butter, flour, salt and sugar and beat in a mixer, or mix by hand, to combine. Add milk in a thin stream, mixing thoroughly until combined. The amount you need will depend on the day, the humidity, etc -- you only want to use as much milk as is necessary to keep the pie dough holding together. Form into a ball and chill until it can be easily handled - about 20 minutes.
4 c sour cherries, pitted and drained
1 1/2 c sugar
3 T arrowroot starch
2 tsp vanilla
If you haven't yet pitted your cherries, be sure to do so! It's easiest if you actually have a cherry/olive stoner. I have pitted cherries with a knife before, and it mangles the fruit (tastes fine, but mangles the fruit). Worse than that, it takes forever. Using the stoner is simple! Plop the fruit on the thing, squeeze, and you're done!
Combine gently and set aside.
Cut dough into two sections, one slightly larger than the other. Use the slightly smaller section as the bottom. Roll out (you will need lots of flour for this pie crust recipe, as the butter makes the dough easy to work with, but quite tacky to the touch. Flour will help keep it from tearing).
Place in a greased pie pan and roll out the second section of the pie dough.
I know that "traditionally," cherry pie is made with a lattice design. But, that's not how it was made in my house when I grew up, and frankly, while pie is about the filling, it's also about the crust, and I've never seen the draw to reduce the amount of crust you get to eat!
When ready to assemble, pour pie filling into the pie shell.
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Then, lower heat to 350 and bake for 1 hour.
Be sure to lick the plate when you're done!