Happy President’s Day! The holiday was originally established in 1885 to recognize President George Washington. Washington’s actual birthday is February 22nd but the holiday was changed to the third Monday as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act to create more three-day weekends for our nation’s workers. We now use it to celebrate all presidents, past and present.
Being that I am a big fan of George Washington, I thought it fitting to make a cherry pie in his honor. The myth we’ve heard for most of our lives is just that, a myth. Washington did not chop down the cherry tree. The story was invented by one of his first biographers, Mason Locke Weems. After Washington’s death in 1799, people were hungry to learn more about him so Weems filled the void.
Though Washington was fond of cherries and cherry pies, he couldn’t eat them with his wooden teeth. His favorites on the table at Mount Vernon were String Beans with Almonds, Steak and Kidney Pie, Martha’s Whiskey Cake, and Hoecakes, which he ate for breakfast with honey and butter most mornings.
I made cherry pies at Christmas for neighbors but never had a piece myself. I was ready for it today. I grabbed my go-to butter crust recipe and got started. It’s a basic recipe I use for most of my pies that I’ve had for a long time. You can find it at SimplyRecipes.com. Elise Bauer gives a great breakdown with step-by-step instructions. For the cherry filling, I used a Food Network recipe by Peter Sterk. It’s very easy to make and has a nice hint of almond.
I only had the one star cookie cutter. I wish I had had a few smaller ones to fill out more of the pie. In the future, I would probably make it one solid top crust. For Washington’s silhouette, I found a few options online and printed them in a couple of different sizes. At the time, I had not decided on a baking dish and didn’t want to have to run back upstairs to the printer if the silhouette was too large or small. It was easy to cut out his head but instead of setting it to the side while I played around with the stars, I set it in the middle of the pie. Big mistake because cherry filling is unforgiving. The dish was a little too deep and Washington’s head was sinking. So, I grabbed my stainless scrapper, lifted it up, then transferred it to the under side of the lid of my Le Creuset baking dish. It was nearby and I knew the dough wouldn’t stick to it. I used a paper towel to remove as much of the filling as I could before sticking it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. I put stars in the middle then placed the silhouette back on top. I really thought I was going to have to make more dough but it actually worked.
I’m happy with the pie and it tastes good, however, I think with a full cover of crust on top it would have baked a little better. I feel like the cherry filling is a bit overcooked. I had to cook it longer, covering the outer stars with foil, to get Washington’s silhouette to brown. I do like that when I cut the pie, each piece gets its own star. Happy accident.