Cherry Pies Ought to Be You

Take aways: Frank Sinatra likes cherry pie, I need to plant a cherry tree, and it’s us vs. the birds?

Cherry Pies | memo2munch

Ok, so there’s this song that you might not know about but that you really need to know about. It’s a duet sung by Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, and when I first heard it I just!!?!? Does it get any better than these two?!?

The duet is called “Cherry Pies Ought to be You,” and it basically consists of each trying to out-do the other with compliments. They get competitive. It’s grand.

Sinatra’s first go is the song’s title, “Cherry pies ought to be you,” and I just adore that. (I love Clooney’s response, too: “Autumn skies ought to be you.”) Although I guess the meaning could be kind of ambiguous. Like is he saying she’s sweet? Flaky? (I’ll stop.)

I’m choosing to see it this way: Sinatra must think cherry pies are outstanding, but not quite as outstanding as Rosemary Clooney.

Don’t we all.

Cherry Pies | memo2munch

Cherry pie holds a special place in my grandpa’s heart as well. He mentions it in a collection of food memories he wrote a few years back. (Sound familiar? He helped inspire memo2munch’s new format!)

“My mother was a wonderful baker,” he writes. “One of her specialties was cherry pie made from the tart cherries that grew on five cherry trees in our own back yard. When the cherries were ripe, my father picked loads of them which my mother made into pies, cherry slices, and also compotes.”

There’s a common theme among recipes that use tart cherries: “[They] required the use of much sugar, which when combined with the tartness of the cherries resulted in the most tantalizing pastries and compotes.” (common theme #2 —-> I want all of them in my belly.)

Cherry Pies | memo2munch

The cherry tree tradition was continued when my mom was growing up. She told me, “We also had a cherry tree in the corner of the backyard. Every spring, the cherry tree would fill with white blossoms, which turned into red sour cherries in the summer.”

However, my mom also remembers some unexpected cherry competition. “Every year, we would hope for lots of cherries so that my mom could make cherries preserves and a pie or two; and almost every year, the birds would get to the cherries before we did. Have you ever seen a pit attached to the stem, growing on a tree? We had a lot of those.”

Cherry Pies | memo2munch

On rare occasions, my mom said they would beat the birds to the spoils and were actually able to use some of their own cherries! “I remember my mom making cherry preserves. I would stand at the sink and pit the cherries using a paper clip. My fingers would turn red (my favorite color) from all the cherry juice.”

Ok, wait, pitting cherries with a paper clip? Yep, it’s a thing! Here’s a YouTube video to prove it.

I have to ruin the magic of these memories and tell you that I did not pit the cherries for today’s pies with a paperclip. I bought pre-pitted and frozen cherries and stood in the checkout line very pleased with the time and juice-stained fingers I would save. (I also bought the piecrust. Because honestly, I can’t pit cherries, make piecrust, and still pass survive biochem. These are my limitations. Just keeping it real.)

However, I then realized I had to halve all the cherries… So I got frozen fingers instead. It’s fine.

Cherry Pies | memo2munch

Pleasepleaseplease send me some of your food memories! Preferably fall-themed as we are officially in the season. You can submit them anonymously or not right here. 🙂

Mini Cherry Pies
(makes 6 mini pies or 1 standard double crust pie)

Ingredients

1 pint or 3-4 cups pitted and halved cherries (I used frozen)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (1 cup if using tart cherries)
Dash lemon juice
Piecrust (premade or homemade—enough for one double crust pie)
Milk and sugar for brushing and sprinkling pies before baking (optional, I used coconut milk)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C. Lightly grease 6 muffin tins.

2. Combine the cherries, sugar, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Roll out the pie dough and cut into six 5-inch circles and six 3-inch circles. (I placed bowls on the dough and cut around them.) Prepare the pies one at a time by first pressing one of the larger circles into the tin, leaving the edges hanging around the outside. Fill generously with cherry filling so that it extends a little higher than the top of the tin. Cover the filling with one of the smaller dough circles, and crimp the leftover edges of the first dough circle as desired. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

3. Use a fork to prick holes in the top of each pie. Brush each pie lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes for small pies, 40-50 minutes for a standard 9-inch pie. Let cool completely before cutting.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins

Do you have a food memory you would like to see appear on memo2munch? Fill out the form here or send me an email at memo2molly@gmail.com and tell me your story! You just might inspire next week’s recipe. 🙂
**Please note that memo2munch caters toward a vegetarian/vegan diet and while food memories of all kinds are welcomed, recipes shared on the site may be adjusted.**

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

I like to call the above photo, “The Evolution of Banana Bread.”

This is a natural progression, right? Once bananas get ripe enough they just morph into banana bread? And the chocolate chips just appear at some point, and we’re just like “Oh, youuuu,” all exasperated but really we don’t mind one bit.

Hey, stranger things have happened. (Like sweet potato cupcakes?!)

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Growing up, my momma would make banana bread for us fairly often. Whenever I saw a few forgotten bananas resting on the counter, speckled with brown, I would internally fist-pump because I knew banana bread was in my near future. (Still happens, honestly. Except now when I’m at school I have to make it.)

The days leading up to the “Momma Cake,” as we called it, bake day seemed to drag on. We like to let the bananas get reallllly ripe and black. That’s when they’re the sweetest and add the most flavor to baked goods. So every day after school I would peer over the counter and check on the ripeness of the bananas to see if they were ready yet, like a very small, very hungry serious scientist tracking the progress of an experiment.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Then, when the bananas were FINALLY LIKE UGH COME ON ready, my mom would let my sister or me mash them with a fork while she measured out the other ingredients.

Ok quick note: banana mashing is so fun. Can I say cathartic? It’s cathartic. None of that blender or food processor stuff, plz. Use a fork.

There’s another “Evolution of Banana Bread” in this story, and that’s the shape the finished product would take. In my earliest memories of my mom’s banana bread, she always made it in a square pan. And I was the brat that would only eat middle pieces because children hate edges on anything??! Pizza crust—->no. Corner brownies—->not a chance. I would like to say, though, that I never took the edges off my Smucker’s Uncrustables. Never.

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Anyway, the original recipe my mom used called for the bread to be baked in a loaf pan. She switched to the square pan after having issues getting the bread to bake through. But then there was the problem of the sunken middle…

As in, the bread would be a baked all the way, but the middle would sink into a kind of banana bread dome once it cooled. But Mom persevered and found a solution! *clapclapclap*

Now she makes the recipe in a Bundt pan. The sunken middle issue is taken entirely out of the equation, and the cake cooks through fine because the batter is more spread out. Innovation!

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

Banana bread will always make me think of “Momma Cake,” but for the recipe today I made a few tweaks. We’ve got cute banana muffins that are vegan and very forgiving. You can’t mess them up. They’re also sprinkled with coconut, which Momma never did because she hates coconut. But I like it, soooo.

The recipe is based on one my friend and I found the other day when it was raining and we wanted dessert and she happened to have three very ripe bananas so what choice did we have? She is also responsible for the coconut topping idea. Thank you, Esther <3

EASIEST Vegan Banana Bread Muffins | memo2munch

We made our version with a mix of chocolate and butterscotch chips, which was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. So if you aren’t vegan, I would highly suggest that.

Hope you enjoy the muffins! Don’t forget to tell me about your food memories!!! memo2molly@gmail.com

Vegan Banana Bread Muffins
(makes about 12 muffins)

Ingredients

3 very ripe, medium bananas
1/3 cup Earth Balance or any margarine, melted (can sub butter if not vegan)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ – 1 cup mini chocolate chips
Coconut flakes for sprinkling (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C and grease a muffin pan or line with muffin papers.

Mash the bananas in a large mixing bowl with a fork until smooth and no lumps remain. Stir in the melted Earth Balance.

Add the sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix completely. Gently stir in the flour until no large lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan, filling each well ¾ full. Sprinkle with coconut flakes. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack briefly before enjoying. Muffins are great days after, especially heated for 12 seconds in the microwave.

Mini Blueberry Cornmeal Pies (Vegan) & Making Pie Crust EASY!

OK SO I COULDN’T WAIT.

I couldn’t wait 4 hours for a slice of pie like I was supposed to, cuz of the whole *letting the filling set* and all that.

But that’s just what happens when you take the pies out of the oven at like 8 PM and they’re so mini and corny and blue that there’s no way you’re waiting till midnight for a bite. I mean, I waited like an hour so that should count for something. Long story short, my filling ran allll over the place. The plate, the table, my face. But it sure does thicken up nice if you give it a chance. (No regrets)

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

I know a lot of people worry about making pie crust from scratch, but I learned a new technique that makes it SUPER EASY.

Use a food processor.

So easy. And you get flaky results EVERY TIME, no matter what fat you use.

A chef named J. Kenji López-Alt created this method, and you can read all about his food-sciencey reasons why it works here if you feel so inclined. Then if you’re like me, you’ll swoon & decide this is the man you are going to marry. (But don’t actually do that very last part k thanks)

Also, it turns out bae has a cookbook coming out on September 21st! It’s called, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. How serendipitous. Not that this was news to me, or anything. We are engaged after all.

As a final ode to summer, I used one of her greatest berry triumphs for these pies, along with a sprinkle of cornmeal in the crust ’cause why not? That texture. Give ’em a try 🙂

Blueberry Cornmeal Pie
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For the crust
  1. 1/2 c. cornmeal
  2. 2 c. all-purpose flour
  3. 2 tbsp. sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 10 tbsp. vegan butter or shortening (can use regular butter if desired), cut into small pats
  6. 3-4 tbsp. ice water
For the filling
  1. 2 pints blueberries (about 4 cups), fresh or frozen
  2. 1/2 c. sugar
  3. 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  4. 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  5. vegan buttermilk, for brushing (optional, can be made mixing 1/4 c. vegan milk and 1 tsp. lemon juice)
Instructions
  1. Make the crust: In the body of a food processor, or in a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, 1.5 cups of the flour, all of the sugar, and the salt and pulse/whisk briefly to incorporate. Scatter the butter pats evenly over the surface and pulse/cut until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp. of the water and fold and press the dough using the spatula until the dough comes together to form a ball. Add another tablespoon of water if necessary. The dough won't be crumbly, like normal pie dough. Don't worry!! Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C. Let the dough stand at room temperature for ten minutes before rolling it out to 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer the dough from one of the balls to your pie pan of choice and trim edges.* The other ball will be used for the top.
  4. Make the filling: In a bowl, stir the blueberries with the sugar, flour and lemon juice, lightly mashing a few berries; scrape into the prepared pie crust. Brush the overhanging pastry with water and carefully set the top crust over the berry filling. Press the edges of the dough together and crimp decoratively. Cut 4-5 slits in the top crust. Brush with buttermilk if desired.
  5. Bake until crust is dry and lightly browned all over and fruit is bubbling. This will vary depending on the size of your pie pan. My 5 inch pans took about 40 minutes, a regular pie will likely take at least 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 4 hours before serving so the filling can thicken up.
Notes
  1. *Leftover dough can be rolled out, brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, cut into squares, and baked in an oven until crispy to make pie crust chips. Don't waste that dough!!
Adapted from Serious Eats
Adapted from Serious Eats
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