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A Scrumptious Sweet Cherry Pie Recipe

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

A very young Burl Ives in Disney movie So Dear To My Heart sings “Billie Boy.”

Can she bake a cherry pie?  Finally, I can answer yes.  After all, I started baking and cooking when I was a young girl, so after 70 years in the kitchen, you’d think I’d learn something.  It took a combination of lessons to make this winning pie.

For many years, a cherry pie–the kind my mother always made to celebrate Washington’s birthday– meant opening a can of cherry pie filling and dumping it into a pie pan lined with pastry, then covering it with another layer of pastry.  I’m sure my grandmother and her mother and grandmother made use of the red sour cherries that grew in profusion in Holmes County, Ohio, but mother was a working woman and although she always made her pie crust from scratch, she took the modern canned short cut for the filling.

I hasten to say that I don’t usually brag on myself, as “it ain’t fittin’.” But my latest version of fresh cherry pie from scratch  definitely qualifies as the perfect pie.

Cherry pie

Cherry pie with streusel

Although I was the only one in the kitchen, I definitely did not do it all by myself–as you will see.

The Pie Crust

Of course, I use the “Perfect Pie Crust” Recipe. This post explains how many people helped me (some posthumously) to make a pie crust for the cherry pie. My Grandmother and Grandfather Anderson, my mother, and my brother’s mother-in-law all played a part.

Then, from somewhere, probably the King Arthur Flour website, I learned that putting a single crust in the refrigerator before filling and baking will help prevent shrinkage. I hesitate to tell you how many single crusts I have tossed because they wound up only covering part of the pan.

The Topping

From the Mennonite cookbook from Kidron Ohio–where my husband’s ancestors settled– I developed a love of streusel-topped desserts, so a twist on the normal streusel replaces the top crust of this pie. My thanks to Chef John at All Recipes for the suggestion of putting almonds in the topping.  I used flaked instead of slivered, and I liked the texture.  I also changed a few other things in his recipe, so compare the two before you decide which suits you.

Cherry pie served

Pie and served piece

Although brown sugar is suggested in Chef John’s recipe, and is standard in the Mennonite cookbook for streusel, I thought it might not be the best flavor fit in a sweet cherry pie, so I used white sugar. I believe that is the better choice.

The Filling

The big black Bing cherries that we in the West get from Washington State and Oregon State in mid summer, need very little sugar in comparison to the more standard sour pie cherries.  So taste your cherries and decide. There is so much flavor in this recipe, that I suggest using less sugar than you think you need, so that nothing distracts from the cherry flavor.

The extra flavor kick?  In comparing various recipes on line, I discovered this genius idea on The Spruce Eats site–add candied or crystallized ginger to your cherry pie filling. Just as almonds are supremely compatible with cherries, so is ginger.

  You may not have crystallized ginger on your shelf, but let me encourage you to try it out.  I keep it on hand to munch like candy, particularly when my stomach feels a little upset. Googling crystallized ginger will give you dozens and dozens of articles, some with different opinions, but to boil it down, there are some proven medical benefits to ginger. However, crystallized, or candied ginger does have a high amount of sugar, so you have to keep that in mind.  Substituting it for candy you might otherwise eat could help. Pigging out on candied ginger could cause problems.

The Spruce Eats site differs from other recipes in that they use instant tapioca instead of cornstarch as a thickener.  I already am sold on instant tapioca as a thickener, thanks to that Mennonite cookbook, and my late mother-in-law.  To me, cornstarch has a bit of taste that interferes with the main ingredients, and I just don’t like the texture.

And when that luscious cherry pie is baked–be sure to serve it with vanilla ice cream.

I hope that when Billie comes to call, you will be able to tell him “Yes, I can bake a cherry pie, quicker than a cat can wink its eye.” (Or in the version I learned, “in the twinkling of an eye.”)

The Perfect Cherry Pie

Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie With Streusel Topping

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 15 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Cold

Ingredients

Pie Crust

  • Single pie crust (Unbaked)

Topping

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup almonds (Flaked or slivered)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter (One stick/8 Tablespoons)

Filling

  • 2lb sweet cherries, pitted (About 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (Cut in small pieces)

Filling (Optional)

  • 2 tablespoons candied/crystallized ginger (Finely chopped)

Fillling

  • 1/2 juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

1. Make pie crust, or take from refrigerator. Roll out a single crust and fit it in 9" pan. Put pan with unbaked dough back in refrigerator until ready to fill.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil to put pie pan on when you bake the pie, and set aside.
3. Mix the Topping dry ingredients with a spoon. Stir in the vanilla. Add the pieces of butter and work in with your fingers until the topping resembles soft dough. Refrigerate.
4. Mix the tapioca, sugar and ginger and pour over cherries in large bowl. Pour over that the juice of 1/2 lemon, and stir in gently. Let this sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
5. Remove unbaked pie shell from refrigerator. Pour in cherries, scraping an accumulated juices from the bowl, spread evenly across crust.
6. Dot with small pieces of butter.
7. Crumble the topping with your fingers and scatter evenly across the top of the cherries, leaving holes in the topping for juices to rise.
8. Put pie on the aluminum lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until nicely browned.

Beyond Brats: Krakauer Wurst, Versatile German Sausage

Krakauer Sausage

Krakauer / Krakow Sausage wrapping

The name gives away that fact that although Krakauer is classified as a German sausage, its roots are in Krakow, Poland. Krakauer can also be called Kawassy. As with the other sausages we have looked at (Weisswurst, Gelbwurst) the ingredients and look of the sausage may vary according to its origin. I have found pictures of long skinny sausages, and fatter rolls meant to slice for lunch meat or thickly sliced, fry quickly.  I had that second kind.

Krakauer sausage ingredients

Krakauer sausage ingredients–pork, beef, salt and garlic. “Spices” probably include pepper and nutmeg.

The sausage is traditionally 80% pork and 20% beef, and is smoked, boiled and smoked again before going to the market. One site described it as “bolder than bologna.”  I definitely liked this one–either as a cold cut or fried and found various uses for it.

Krakauer cold cuts

Krakauer sliced for cold cuts

This Stiglmeier sausage has no nitrites and is fully cooked. [A site in German says that if sausage contains nitrite it is actually dangerous to grill it, as the high heat turns the nitrite salts into a carcinogenic. I had never seen that before, an interesting thing to learn.]

First, we had it for dinner.  After I browned the sausage in some vegetable oil, I stirred cubed beets into the grease and sprinkled it with nutmeg.  I also fried some potatoes.

Krakauer Wurst dinner

Krakauer Wurst dinner with sauteed beets and fried potatoes.

The next morning, I diced some of the sausage and stirred it into pieces of the left over fried potatoes–sautéed it and mixed in an egg. Yummy.

A couple days later, I boiled some greens (I had kale and beet greens on hand). I browned cubes of the sausage in a little vegetable oil. when the greens were tender (less than 10 minutes), I stirred them in with the sausage cubes and we had another twist on Krakauer sausage.

Krakauer/Krakow/Kawassy–whatever you want to call it–this sausage has climbed to the top of my favorites.

Zingy Krautsuppe: German Cabbage Soup

I love making soup, and this adaptable variation on a traditional German cabbage soup manages to pay tribute to the German ancestors while cleaning out my refrigerator at the same time.

Cabbage soup

Cabbage soup cooking

I will give you a recipe, but please don’t feel bound by anything you see.  Well, except the cabbage and the vinegar and caraway, because that puts the ZING in this Zingy soup.

I used pieces of bacon and some leftover cooked ham.  Browning the vegetables in the bacon grease adds depth to their flavor.

cabbage soup in bowl closeup

A bit of vinegar makes your vegetables zippier.

And caraway gives this soup a unique flavor.

Zingy German Cabbage Soup

Serves 6-8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 35 minutes
Meal type Soup
Misc Serve Hot
Region German

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cabbage (chopped)
  • 2 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 Bell pepper (red or green, chopped)
  • 1 large potato (cubed)
  • 3 rashers of bacon (cut in 1)
  • 2 cups cooked ham (cubed)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6-8 cups broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Directions

1. Brown the bacon pieces in soup pot . Add ham cubes and stir to brown slightly. Take meat out of pan, but leave bacon grease.
2. Add chopped carrots and celery and pepper and potato and stir to brown and slightly soft. Add cabbage and continue to stir until cabbage gets a bit soft.
3. Add broth and meat, vinegar and caraway, and stir to combine.
4. Simmer for an hour or more.
5. Serve with dark or rye bread. Store leftovers in glass jars in refrigerator for up to a week. (One quart makes two large servings.)

Note

I did not add salt because the ham and bacon added enough salt.  You might make it with ground beef, in which case you probably would want to add salt.

The soup can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and no meat.

I used a sweet potato instead of a regular white potato.

If your potatoes are thin-skinned and organic, don't bother to peel.

I did not add onions, but leeks or onions can also be added. In fact feel free to use whatever vegetables you want.  The recipe is very adaptable.