My Granny and Grandpop had a cherry tree in their backyard.
This wasn’t too uncommon, living just outside of Washington, D.C., famed for not only being the country’s seat of government but also for it’s amazing cherry blossoms each spring.
They also had a crabapple tree, which I think their dozens of grandchildren enjoyed more for the “apple bombs” than for the sour crabapples.
But the cherry tree was an entirely different story.
When the yield was good, Granny would send us out to the back yard with bushel baskets and let us pick the cherries, cautioning us not to eat TOO many (I don’t think she really meant it). Then we (literally dozens of us grandchildren) would bring them back in and help her pit the cherries. We all know pitting cherries is hard work, but Granny was smart that way because we knew that if we helped, at the end of it, there would be a glorious cherry pie (or three) for all of us to enjoy. Not only did we get to enjoy the cherry pie, but Granny would let us make cinnamon-sugar pies out of the scraps of homemade dough. It was wonderful.
Makes two “mini” pies
1 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp ice water
1 lb (about 3 cups) sour or sweet cherries, pitted
3 Tbsp sugar (2/3 cups if using sour cherries)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
Combine flour, brown sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut in 6 tablespoons of the butter using a pastry blender, two knives or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time; mix until just combined. Pat the dough into a 5-by-6-inch rectangle, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Melt the remaining butter and set aside. Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, melted butter and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and set aside. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece to a 1/8-inch thickness, and fit two of the rolled-out pieces into two 4-inch pie plates. Fill each with half the cherry mixture, drape the remaining two pieces of dough over the pies, and crimp the edges to seal. Cut slits into the tops of the pies and bake until golden.