The first cherry pie recipe I tried tasted OK, but there was a watery liquid in the bottom of the pie that seperated from the filling...not a good thing.
Next, I tried a recipe that used flour as a thickener, but it left a cloudy filling ... not what I wanted.
Next I tried tapioca to thicken the filling and it eliminated the cloudy fruit filling problem, but it was hard to guage just how much tapioca was enough and how much was too much; it also produced inconsistent results...not good.
So, as usual, I took a little bit of this recipe and added it to that recipe and then threw in a couple of my own ideas and came up with todays recipe. I served it on Father's Day and picky-picky husband actually said "This is THE best cherry pie I've ever eaten!!" After I picked myself up off of the floor (not literally, lol) , I knew I had a winner!!!
CHERRY PIE FILLING
(2) 14 ounce cans unsweetened tart pie cherries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar DIVIDED
4 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons corn starch
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (do not leave out)
2 teaspoons butter, room temperature
Drain the cherries but SAVE THE LIQUID. Put one cup of the liquid into a heavy saucepan with the corn starch, salt and HALF OF THE SUGAR, mix well.
Bring this mixture to a boil, while stirring, and cook until it gets VERY THICK (only takes a minute or so once it starts to boil (keep stirring fast).
Remove from heat and stir in the butter, almond extract and the OTHER HALF of the sugar, mix well. Gently fold in the drained cherries. Let cool while you make the pie crust.
This is the all time best pie crust I have EVER made and I've made tons of them. This dough handles beautifully (no need to chill the dough) and makes either 3 single crusts or a large 2 crust pie with some left over. Everyone I've served this crust to is wild about it.
4 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups butter flavored Crisco shortening
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup ice cold water
Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter (or a couple of forks) until the shortening is about half the size of a green pea.
Mix the sugar, salt, egg, vanilla and ice water together, until well mixed, then add it all to the flour-shortening mixture. Work it with your hands until everything comes together in a big ball. Try to do this fairly quickly so that the heat of your hands doesn't melt the shortening. No need to chill this dough.
Roll out a bottom crust, on a floured counter, to fit a 9" pie pan. Put the cherry filling into the bottom crust and then brush the edges of the crust with a little egg white that has a few drops of water whisked into it (this will help "glue" the bottom crust to the top crust).
Roll out a top crust, on a floured counter, and lay it over the filled bottom crust. Cut off the extra dough that hangs over the rim of the pie plate (see note). Pinch the top and bottom crust edges together (or use a fork).
After you have pinched the two crusts together, brush the top pie crust with more of the egg white wash (the same that you used to "glue" the edges ) and then sprinkle the whole surface, lightly, with granulated sugar.
Cut several small vent holes in the top crust. Bake in 375 preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown (I usually leave it in for 45 minutes). COOL PIE COMPLETELY BEFORE CUTTING.
NOTE: When you are trimming the excess unbaked crust from around the rim of the pie pan, leave it just a little long so that you can tuck under the edge before you pinch the pie edge into a design.
NOTE: I bake all of my pies on a cookie sheet just in case they spill over.