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When I was very young, my birthday cake was different from other kids' my age. Cherry pie was my all-time favorite dessert, so rather than a big slice of cake and a scoop of ice cream, Momma made a scrumptious cherry pie, and I always got to cut my own slice as long as I left enough for the rest of the family. That always included an older distant cousin who shared the same birthday as me — and also my love of cherry pie.

My birthday is May 30, traditional Memorial Day. Sometime back in the 1990s or so, the government changed Memorial Day to be the last Monday in May, so my birthday and all others born on May 30 only falls on what we consider the true Memorial Day once every seven years or so. This year, as it happens, my birthday and Memorial Day coincide, so guess what we'll be having for dessert?

Cherry pie is not at the top of the list for Memorial Day desserts, but it can be quite patriotic if you add some blueberries and vanilla ice cream.

The problem with any pie is that it will only serve about eight people. That is, at most people's homes. At mine it will serve six, or, if it's cherry pie it will serve more like four or five. So what I like about this recipe is that it's made in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and will serve a crowd. That makes it all the more perfect for a Memorial Day gathering.

Buy a ready-made pie crust, or make your own and line the baking dish with the crust, saving any scraps so that you can cut little stars and stripes out of the pastry to decorate the top. You'll make two separate fillings and arrange them so that the blueberry filling goes where the stars are on the flag, and the cherries go where the stripes are.

This pie takes a few more steps than a traditional cherry or blueberry pie but it will be a hit at your Memorial Day party — or save it for the Fourth of July. It works for either one. Even Labor Day. Or all three!

 

Cherry Blueberry Pie

Blueberry filling:

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (see note)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cherry filling:

1 (14-ounce) can tart cherries, drained, save juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup sugar, divided

2 tablespoons tapioca

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pie crust:

Double pie crust (store-bought or homemade)

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon water

2 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse blueberries, and place in a bowl; add sugar, and stir. In a separate bowl, add lemon juice to cornstarch, and stir well. Toss with blueberries and sugar, and set aside.

Strain juice from canned tart cherries into a measuring cup, then place cherries in a separate mixing bowl. Add lemon juice to cherry juice, then add water to make 3/4 cup.

Add the lemon/cherry juice/water mixture to a small saucepan. Into the juice mixture stir in cinnamon, 1/2 of the sugar (6 tablespoons), tapioca and salt until well blended. Heat the mixture on medium-high for 5 minutes and starting to boil. You will notice that it starts to thicken. Remove from heat, then add the rest of the sugar until well blended, and pour over cherries. Set aside for 15 minutes.

While fruit is resting, prepare the pie crusts. Roll out 1 1/2 pie crusts to be about 1 inch larger than the 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Save 1/2 of a pie crust to make stars and stripes.

Place large rolled-out pie crust in the bottom of baking dish, pinching the edges to form a seal.

Roll the leftover dough to 1/4-inch-thick rectangle at least 13 inches long. Cut 3/4-inch strips to make stripes across top of pie. Cut out stars using a cookie cutter.

Fold some foil to make a 5- by 4-inch divider. You want the foil to be able to hold the blueberries in place while you pour in the cherries, making the star section of the pie.

Place the foil divider in the top left corner of the baking dish, creating a barrier that will hold the blueberries in. Gently pour the blueberry mixture in. Then, leaving the divider in place, pour the cherry mixture in.

Leaving the divider in while you place the long strips that create the stripes will give you a clear border. Place all of the strips across the top of the cherries, making the stripes of your flag. Gently remove the foil divider. Place the stars on top of the blueberries.

Beat an egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash onto the crusts. Then sprinkle with the sugar.

Place baking dish on a cookie sheet in case it boils over. Bake at 400 for 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbly.

Allow to cool for at least an hour to allow the fruit to set up and not ooze all over. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw them. Thawing them will turn the dough blue.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com or annebraly.com.

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Anne Braly
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