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The care it takes to make delicious pie is evident in every bite that’s enjoyed. (Cristen Clark/Special to Agweek)

Pie tips and tricks: Double Cherry Pie Recipe

The insanely freezing April weather and recent trade concerns can get the best of most people, but I firmly believe a little pie helps reset the maniacal, heal the hurting and spread joy and cheer to all who savor a slice. Pie is a universal comfort food. The care it takes to make delicious pie is evident in every bite that's enjoyed.

If you ask me, fruit pies are back "in style." They are a nod to nostalgia, transporting all who enjoy them to "Grandma's kitchen." Making great pie is a life-skill and one that is honed not only by love and care but by experience and consistent practice.

As a food contest judge, my favorite classes to judge are fruit pie classes, for obvious reasons and also because I learn so many tips and tricks to employ in my own kitchen. Entrants are endlessly creative and there are several ideas that consistently repeat in their winning recipes.

• Mix it up: If you are making an apple pie, use 3 types of apples. One tart, one sweet and one in between. Swap out some of the cinnamon in an apple pie for some lemon zest. The acidity from the zest will complement the warmness of the cinnamon.

• If you are using freshly grated citrus zest of any kind in your pie, take extra time to rub the zest with granulated sugar from the recipe. This action will encourage the natural oils from the zest to release and "perfume" the sugar, increasing the enhancing flavor of your finished pie. It also breaks down the zest pieces slightly so they are less detected in the finished pie.

• Don't wreck your crust. If you are preparing a cooked filling, let the filling cool prior to adding it to your pastry-lined pie plate. If you don't wait, the hot pie filling will melt the fat in your crust. It's imperative that the fat component in your pie crust is well-chilled so it steams when the pie is introduced to the hot oven. The puff of steam the chilled fat gives off when it hits the hot oven creates delicate flaky layers that the best pies all have.

• Rest: After removing fruit pies from the oven, allow four hours for the pie to rest to achieve proper "set." This means it won't ooze all over the pie plate once you cut the first slice.

• The "cheeriest" pie of all is cherry.

Double Cherry Pie

Makes 1 standard sized pie

Ingredients:

Filling:

3 cups frozen tart/sour cherries, thawed, strained and very gently pressed of juices

1 ½ cup frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, strained and very gently pressed of juices

1 cup of reserved cherry juice (reserve juice and add water if need be to make 1 cup)

1 ¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons instant tapioca pearls

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons butter

1 beaten egg plus 2 teaspoons water

1 tablespoon sanding sugar or granulated sugar

Pastry for a two crust pie (see below)

Thaw cherries. Reserve juice. Set cherries aside. Place cherry juice, sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Cook until juice is clear. Cool slightly, add cherries. Cool to lukewarm. Fold in tapioca. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot top of filling with 2 tablespoons butter. Cover with desired topping/crust. Crimp decoratively and vent decoratively. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350, continue baking for 40-50 minutes until slow bubbles form in the filling around the sides or up through vents of pie. You may wrap an aluminum foil collar around the outside crust if the pie gets too brown during baking. (I wrap my foil collar before the pie goes into the oven, removing it for the last 15-20 minutes of baking.)

Lard or Butter Pie Pastry:

Pastry:

2 ½ cup all purpose flour

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 cup butter or lard, frozen or well-chilled, cubed into half inch cubes (or ½ cup of each)

1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)

½-plus cup ice water (more or less depending on humidity in your region)

Combine dry ingredients, whisk well. Cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs form. Combine wet ingredients, add them to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. This mixture is ready when you can grab a portion of it in your palm, squeeze and it sticks together. Turn half the mixture out onto plastic wrap, shape into a disk. Repeat with the other half. Cover both with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 F. When ready to roll crusts: Remove from refrigerator, remove plastic. Generously flour workspace, roll crust out to 13 to 14-inch disks. Place one in pie pan. Do not stretch. Patch any imperfections (holes, etc.) Fill pie carefully with filling of choice. (Not HOT filling, only lukewarm or cooler so you don't melt the fat in the crust.) Basket weave lattice crust on top of filling. Fold crust under, crimp decoratively. Return to refrigerator or prepare pie immediately.

Freezing:

Freeze prepared pie in an aluminum pie plate. Bake frozen pie at 400 for 30 minutes and 350 for an additional 50-70 minutes until juices are bubbling from vents/lattice in pie.

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