A step-by-step photo tutorial for making a from-scratch cherry pie for Dad for Father’s Day.
When my husband and I got engaged, he had just one request of me: to spend a day with my Great-grandma Irma learning how to make her Pecan Pie. My future husband wants his wife to know how to make a homemade pie like my Great-grandma makes. So I spent a lovely afternoon with my grandma learning how to make pie from scratch.
Wisdom from Grandma
Grandma was a short, stocky, strong woman. The granddaughter of German immigrants, her nickname was Dutch. She was born in 1901 and died just after her 100th birthday in 2001. Her white hair was done up in a horseshoe braid on the back of her head and she always wore a house dress. I never saw her in pants. She would peel apples and make popcorn with hickory smoke flavored salt for my siblings and me when we would visit. Living just three blocks from her in our small Ozark town was a blessing.
I loved my Grandma dearly. Spending a day learning to make pie with her was a gift. She was so proud to pass along her knowledge to her granddaughter. We chatted away while I basked in her love sharing her 90 years of experience with me.
She passed along to me not only her pie-making skills but also advice for a happy marriage. She said, “If you want to make a man happy, you need to make pie rather than cake. Men like pie better than cake.”
If you want to make a man happy, you need to make pie rather than cake. Men like pie better than cake.”
Well, she should know. Her husband passed away long before I was born. She never remarried and in her stories about him I could tell their marriage was a happy one.
The Lost Art of Pie from Scratch
Pie-making is almost a lost art. I hope with younger people looking to live more naturally and wanting to know where their food comes from this skill will continue.
Today I’m making a Tart Red Cherry Pie with cherries from my orchard.
It’s early June right now, and here in Iowa, the tart red cherries on the trees are still green. They’ll be ready soon. If you live where they are ready, get some at an orchard, farmer’s market, or of you’re own tree if you have them. Tart red cherries are the best of nature’s sour candy. The pies made using tart red cherries are a wonderful blend of tart and sweet.
To prepare fresh-picked cherries for pie, wash the fruit then remove the stems and pits. I use a cherry pitter like this one:
Be sure to wear old clothes and have an old towl handy while pitting cherries. There will be splatter. I like to sit on the deck while working on cherries.
If you don’t have access to fresh tart red cherries or don’t care for the stemming/pitting process, buy them frozen. Just let them thaw and use them as you would fresh.
I both can and freeze cherries from my orchard.
Making the Crust
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup shortening (lard, butter, coconut oil, or vegetable shortening all make good pie crust. I like coconut oil)
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups iced water
Follow the instructions in this video or in the blog article Making Pie Crust 101: A Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial.
The Filling for Cherry Pie
5 cups tart red cherries
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
In a large bowl mix the cherries with the sugar and flour.
Sugar causes the cherries to release their juice. Spoon off about ½ cup of juice so your pie filling isn’t runny after it bakes.
Assembling the Pie
Cut the dough in half for a 2-crust pie. On a lightly floured surface roll one of the halves of the dough into a circle. Make it about 2 inches larger than the pie pan.
To transfer the dough to the pie pan, fold it in half, then fold again into a quarter. Place into the bottom of the pan and carefully unfold the dough.
Trim the dough along the edge of the pie pan with a sharp knife.
Pour the cherry pie filling into the crust and spread it to distribute it evenly.
Roll the other half of the dough into a circle and follow the same folding procedure as before. Place the dough on top of the filling.
With your hands, press the edges of the bottom and top crusts together.
Then, using the thumb and index finger of one hand and just the index finger of the other hand, crimp the edge of the crust to create the traditional ripple on the edge of the pie.
With a sharp knife, cut to slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.
Use a pastry brush and lightly brush the entire top crust with milk or cream. Then sprinkle the crust with sugar. This is how Grandma made her crusts.
Place the pie on the bottom rack of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes. the pie is done when the filling bubbles a little out of the slits in the crust.
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for a couple of hours.
Give Dad a big hug and enjoy eating pie and spending this day together.
Happy Father’s Day!