Since we’re in the midst of cherry season on the Old Mission Peninsula, now is a great time to share this cherry pie recipe from Deni Hooper.
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Deni, who passed away many years ago, was married to Rex Hooper, and my siblings and I grew up with all their kids – Marc, Leslye (Wuerfel, who started the Traverse City Beach Bums with her family), John, Charlie and Bruce, who owns Hooper’s Farm Gardens with his wife Terry.
The Hoopers owned a farm on Kroupa Road, always had Boxer dogs and beautiful horses, and Deni was an organizer and announcer for the horse shows at Bowers Harbor Park. Yes, there were horse shows there back in the day. Big horse shows. Story forthcoming.
This cherry pie recipe is from Deni’s book, “The Magic Cherry,” a pamphlet-type book that’s hand-written in her beautiful handwriting. I’m not sure when the book came out, but there’s a little note in the front of mine in my mom’s handwriting, “To Jane, July 1984.” So I’m guessing it was around that time.
While some OMP farmers have finished shaking, many are still going strong, including my family’s Johnson Farms. I stopped by the cooling pad/receiving station yesterday, and they were shaking tart cherries, light brines, and dark sweets – all at the same time.
Wait, what?! Cherry season used to have clear-cut divisions between the varieties. And even then, it was sheer madness back when I used to run the cooling pad (before they built the beautiful one they have now – back when it was across the road from the barn – story forthcoming).
At any rate, here is Deni’s cherry pie recipe. You can find tart cherries at most of the farmstands along the road right now, including Johnson Farms, on Center Road about a half-mile north of Mapleton on the right.
Magnificent Montmorency Red Tart Cherry Pie
- 4 c. Red Tart Montmorency Cherries – fresh, frozen or canned (pitted and drained)
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. potato flour
Mix sugar, flour, and extract, and carefully mix with cherries.
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2/3 c. shortening
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2/3 c. ice water
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Cut shortening into dry ingredients; quickly mix in ice water. Divide in half, roll out and line 9″ pie plate. Trim, add filling and dot with butter. Do something with top. Fun to play with, depending on time. Fastest is a full top crust to cut out cherry shape. Double and crimp edge and brush crust with an egg milk wash.
Place in lower third of oven preheated to 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and leave until center of filling bubbles, about 30 minutes.
This is the way we like it best, tho’ we often vary it. Other flour in crust, whole wheat, eg, less cherries with an almond custard. Replace all or part of sugar with honey or pureed cherries.