Monday, October 17, 2011

She Can Bake a Cherry Pie, Quick as a Cat can Wink an Eye

Previously on this blog, there was some whingeing about Cherry Pie. Rest easy; the Cherry Pie Disaster is now solved. Cherry Pie is now—again—a success. But on the way there, I tried almost everything. If you have pie fail issues, you may care to read on. If you don’t, just look at the pretty picture and salivate.
Let’s start by debunking the myth that flour is useful as a thickener. Hah! I say. If it works for you, you may ignore this, but it never has for me. Next.
Cornstarch. I did a lot of research on this, and read many suggestions to take some of the cherry juice (some sources suggest a percentage of the cherries as well) and either mix with cornstarch and cook till thick or leave out the cornstarch and cook the cherries and juice down until they’re thick. In either case, you mix the cooked mixtures with the rest of the cherries and proceed merrily with your pie-making.
This is an egregious misinformation perpetrated upon innocent pie-makers. The remaining juice in the remaining cherries dilutes the thickening power of the thickened concoctions and leads to a supremely soupy pie.
Tapioca flour is deemed by most sources to be the best thickener. I used the maximum allowable amount and ended up with a layer of cherry tapioca glue on the bottom, and cherries swimming blithely in soup on top. (I will say, in its defense, that it’s generally successful in apple pie.)
I had long suspected that this whole soupiness business had something to do with the fact that I was using frozen cherries. I think that freezing them causes them to exude more juice when they are thawed than fresh cherries do, thus creating the soupiness problem. In my pre-pie-fail days, I’d been using fresh cherries from our own trees. But we moved and had to leave the cherry trees behind, alas, and you can’t get fresh pie cherries here, not even in season. They’ll ship in Rainier cherries from goodness knows where, but the stalwart pie cherry is ignored. That’s Missouri for you.
What you want to do is purchase a product called Pie Filling Enhancer and follow the directions on the package. It works. As you can see. You can get it from King Arthur Flour ( Tell them I sent you.

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