Happy President’s Day! For some, a holiday. But for everyone, a chance to remember the visionary men who founded this country on principles of democracy, which we try to uphold today. And what better way to commemorate this day than with a pie? But not just any flavor, because – I cannot tell a lie – I love Washington Sweet Cherry Pie.
Most every school age child has heard the story of six-year old George Washington, who received a hatchet for his birthday and proceeded to cut down his Father’s favorite cherry tree. When confronted, he reportedly fessed up: “I cannot tell a lie. I did cut it down with my hatchet,” whereby his father embraced George for his honesty. Although this story may be a myth, it certainly was an effective way to demonstrate values of honesty and goodness.
And honest to goodness, I love this pie! I originally found it at allrecipes.com. For one thing, I can use frozen sweet cherries with no worries about: what’s in season, how long it’ll take to pit the fruit, preparation time, etc. Just thaw the fruit and you’re ready to go!
To start, you’ll need a pie crust, enough for a two-crust pie, so double the recipe in the link. The classic top crust for cherry pie is a lattice top, but feel free to make a solid top crust instead – it will taste just as great.
For the filling, the frozen cherries are thawed in a bowl. The recipe also calls for a third cup of cherry juice, but your frozen fruit will probably produce enough juice by itself. So, don’t discard that juice, measure it and see whether you need more. Others have also used cranberry juice to supplement, so there’s leeway with that particular ingredient.
Mix the cherries and juice with white and brown sugar, a little almond extract and some cornstarch and flour for thickening. Place one pie crust into the pie plate, add the filling, then top with the second crust. As described in my post on baking pie crust, you might want to brush the bottom crust with an egg white wash to provide a barrier to the juices and prevent soggy crust.
When I made this pie, I decided to “weave” the lattice crust separately, then carefully rolled it up on the rolling pin. Once my pie filling was in the bottom crust, I carefully unrolled the lattice top and then trimmed, pinched and crimped the edge to get everything secure. See below. 😃
This is definitely one of those pies that requires special care, i.e. covering the edges of the crust for the first 20 minutes of baking to prevent edges from burning. Use some pieces of tin foil or a pie shield. Both methods work well.
The reward? A beautiful and oh-so-tasty sweet cherry pie for President’s Day. Or any other day!
And thank you, founding fathers, for your courage and wisdom.
Washington Sweet Cherry Pie
- 2 Unbaked pie crust enough for double crust 9-inch pie
- 4 cups frozen sweet dark cherries (about 20 oz), thawed and drained, juice reserved
- 1/3 cup cherry or cranberry juice to supplement drained juice if needed
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 2 TB cornstarch
- 3 TB flour all-purpose
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Measure the reserved juice from the thawed cherries and supplement with more cranberry or cherry juice if needed to make a total of one-third cup of juice.
- In a bowl, mix the cherries, juice, almond extract, brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch and flour until the sugar has dissolved; allow to stand while preparing pastry dough, about 15 minutes.
- If a lattice top is desired, roll out one crust and cut it into strips using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Overlap the strips on top of the filling in a pattern of your choosing.
- Line a 9-inch pie dish with a pastry crust, and brush the bottom with beaten egg white to seal the pastry. Fill with the cherry filling. Top with the remaining crust, and crimp the edges to seal. If using a solid top crust, cut several steam vents into the top with a sharp paring knife.
- Cover the edges of the crust with a pie shield or strips of tinfoil. Place pie in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes with the edges covered. Remove the edge protectors and continue to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the cherry filling is bubbling/thickened and the crust is browned.
- Allow to cool before serving.