Of all the pies that one can bake, only a cherry pie inspires endless anticipation while I wait for it to finish baking. Certain members of the household are constitutionally incapable of waiting for it to actually cook before digging in.
The best cherries for this delicacy are tart and fresh picked as they are very tender and hard to find, even at farmer's markets. My solution to that problem was to plant a dwarf Montmorency pie cherry tree, which takes up very little space and after a couple years can be counted on to deliver an abundance of beautiful bright red, almost translucent, fruit from late June to mid-July.
The following 1929 recipe as originally published by the Minute Tapioca Company, Inc. is very similar to the instructions now found on the Kraft Minute Tapioca box, but makes a much smaller pie. It also calls for canned cherries.
1 can seeded red cherries, drained (1 1/3 cups)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cherry juice
1 1/2 tbsp. Minute Tapioca
1 recipe pie crust
Combine cherries, sugar, cherry juice, and Minute Tapioca, and let stand about 15 minutes, or while pastry is being made.
Line a 9-inch pie plate with half of pastryrolled to a 1/8 inch thickness. Moisten edges of pastry with cold water. Fill pie shell with cherries. Roll other half of pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Fold half the pastry back on the other half. With sharp knife make several incisions to permit escape of steam. Place upper crust on filled lower one, opening out folded half after it is placed on pie. Press edges together, then with sharp knife trim off surplus pastry. Again press edges together with fork dipped in flour. Bake in hot oven (450º F.) 20 minutes, then decrease heat to moderate (350º F.) and bake 20 minutes longer, or until filling is cooked.
Notes: I pick and pit a quart of cherries, then immediately mix them with 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 tsp. almond extract, and 1/4 c. tapioca, then freeze the fruit mixture and seal it in a Food Saver bag. When I want a pie, I take my handy-dandy frozen fruit, defrost, and put it in a prepared pie plate, add my top crust, and am good to go. I usually bake fruit pies at about 400º F. for the first 40 minutes, then turn down the oven to about 375º F. until the pie is bubbling and the crust is the right color. Because I dislike runny pies I tend to bake about an hour and that ALWAYS requires a foil top to keep it from over browning.
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