How to Cook: Fresh Cherry Tapioca Pie

I'ts Autumn, and you know what that means! Pie! Lots and lots of Pie! Sure, there's Pumpkin carving, leaves turning, and several holidays, but pies are the center of attention! From Pumpkin to Peach, there's no better time to warm up the house with the oven.


Have your kitchen smell like dough and various fruits and fillings this season. I made these pies on request from my Dad, who loves Tapioca, and wanted to share the recipe with you! This is labeled as a fresh pie because I used fresh cherries instead of the canned kind. It's pretty simple itself, the only difficult part is, since this is Cherry Pie, getting the pits out. I go over how I got them out, but if you have some ancient family secret style of pitting cherries, be my guest. I also added a kind of almond crumble to the top of my pies, because I'm a big fan of amaretto. It's optional, but I am including it in the recipe.

Yields 4 Individual or 1 Large Pie.

(I will be using the usual crust recipe, only slightly altered.)



You will need:

- 4 Medium Ramekins or 1 Pie Tin
- 1 Large Baking Sheet (Optional) 
- 1 Medium mixing bowl
- 1 Large mixing bowl
- 1 Large Strainer
- 1 Small Pairing Knife
- 1 Cutting Board
- 2 Butter knives (or a batter cutter)
- 1 Fork (Or toothpick)
- Plastic Wrap
For Almond Topping
- 1 Large Knife
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 Small bowl
- 1 Spoon


Ingredients:

Crust (Make 2 if making a large pie) 

- 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
- 1/8 Teaspoon Almond Extract 
- 1/3 Cup and 1 Tablespoon Shortening
- 1-2 TableSpoons ice cold water

Filling 

- 3 Cups Fresh Pitted Cherries, the softer the better, de-stemmed and rinsed 
- 1/4 Cup Water 
- 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Quick Cooking Tapioca 

Almond Topping (Optional)

- 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Almonds
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Oatmeal
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar 


First, preheat the oven to 425˚ F. 

Use your large mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients for the crust, mix them together roughly with your knives.


Add the all of the shortening and the Almond Extract to the mix and being cutting it in. 


Take your knives to they resemble an X, over lapping each other, and pull the knives towards to and spin the bowl slowly, scraping the excess onto the side of the bowl occasionally. This is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. 


Continue until most of the dough resembles little balls, like clumpy parmesan cheese. This mainly makes it easier to knead and work with, and you do not need to make it "perfect". 


Add the cold water one Tablespoon at a time, and either "fluff" the dough with a fork, or with a wooden spoon. I've done it both ways, so whichever you prefer. 


Once there is 2 Tablespoons in the dough begin kneading it. Only add another Tablespoon is the dough is still very dry after kneading. If you just add it without thinking, you will need to add more flour so that the dough is not too soft. (The amount of water you use will change and depend on many things, so never assume that it will always be the same amount.)

Knead it until it is smooth, and form a ball. 


Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces (if making small pies), wrap it with plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge until you are ready to use it. This is a softer dough, so you don't need a rolling pin to work with it, just press the dough how you would like it, when it comes time to use it. 


Next is the hard part, pitting the cherries. I set up a station with a cutting board, the large mixing bowl with the strainer on top of it. I placed them close together to avoid the juice spilling, it stains easily. 


Now, depending on how ripe your cherries are is how you want to pit them. My bag had a mix of soft and firm ones to work with, so I used a different technique for each of them. First, let's go over the firm cherries. 

Place the cherry on the cutting board and use the pairing knife to cut around half of the cherry. This way you know where the pit is and it's easier to move the knife around. 


Then put the knife into the cherry and, starting from where you sliced it before, cut around the pit until you have it mostly out. This way the cherry still looks whole even though it's almost cut in half. 


Move the cherry and knife above the strainer-bowl set and finish popping out the cherry there, so you loose as little juice as possible. You can either throw out the pit now, or pick them all out later. 


The best way to get this done is with older, squishy, cherries. They are softer and far easier to work with, getting "seconds"on fruit (that is, bruised or overripe, making it cheaper to buy)  is a good thing when it comes to pies and jams. If you have softer cherries hold the cherry and knife above the strainer and stick the knife into the cherry right where the stem used to be. Move around the pit with the knife and pop it out, and you're done! This may be nerve-wracking if you are afraid of cutting yourself, but I did about 2 cups of cherries this way, as a really clumsy person, and I didn't hurt myself once. 


Move all of the cherries and juice into the large bowl underneath the strainer. Add the water, vanilla and almond extract, salt, and sugar and mix well. 


Lastly, add the Tapioca to the filling and mix well. Now you can either stop here, or make the almond topping as well. 

Take your almonds and chop them up finely and place them in a small bowl. 


Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it well. Then you can assemble your pies!


You can fill the ramekins up any way you like! With or without crust on the bottom, with or without crust on the top, adding the almond as the only topping, any way you like them! I'll let you know now that covering the top completely is a bad idea, the pie could "pop" and the filling pour everywhere, I know from experience... My favorite kind was a "Lattice Version". Press a thin layer of the dough into the bottom of the ramekin, and poke holes into it with a fork or toothpick. 


Add the filling up to the top. 


Decorate the top as you would like it, I placed strips a crossed it, without covering the top too much. 


Once you have all of the pies done, you can add the almond topping is desired. (You can also put it underneath the crust is you want to.) Place them on the baking sheet and bake 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. 


Let them cool, and you're done!


These were a bit of work to make, but I had a lot of fun with it! You can make this as a special dessert for your company, or make a bunch of them for a party, it's up to you! The Tapioca is a fun way to thicken the filling, giving it a unique texture. I also loved using the fresh black cherries, it gave it a whole different taste than canned cherries. I hope you're able to try making these this fall and that you find them as delicious as I did! 

Enjoying the noms of their labor,
-C.A.M. 


P.S. I've been putting up vacation videos up on my YouTube account lately, you can watch the latest one, driving and cruising through Seattle, Here