Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Telling Lies – Crustless Cherry Cinnamon Pie

Crustless Cherry Cinnamon Pie
"When George," said she, "was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master of a hatchet! of which, like most little boys, he was immoderately fond, and was constantly going about chopping everything that came in his way. One day, in the garden, where he often amused himself hacking his mother's pea-sticks, he unluckily tried the edge of his hatchet on the body of a beautiful young English cherry-tree, which he barked so terribly, that I don't believe the tree ever got the better of it. The next morning the old gentleman, finding out what had befallen his tree, which, by the by, was a great favourite, came into the house; and with much warmth asked for the mischievous author, declaring at the same time, that he would not have taken five guineas for his tree. Nobody could tell him anything about it. Presently George and his hatchet made their appearance. "George," said his father, " do you know who killed that beautiful little cherry tree yonder in the garden? " This was a tough question; and George staggered under it for a moment; but quickly recovered himself: and looking at his father, with the sweet face of youth brightened with the inexpressible charm of all- conquering truth, he bravely cried out, " I can't tell a lie, Pa; you know I can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my hatchet."--"Run to my arms, you dearest boy," cried his father in transports, " run to my arms; glad am I, George, that you killed my tree; for you have paid me for it a thousand fold. Such an act of heroism in my son is more worth than a thousand trees, though blossomed with silver, and their fruits of purest gold."

From Chapter 2 – Birth and Education
A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits of General George Washington
By Parson Mason Locke Weems
It's a legendary anecdote familiar to nearly every American grade schooler, a devout and sincere tribute to “the father of his country,” and proof positive that the first president of the United States was a man of honor, integrity and truth. Too bad Parson Weems was lying through his teeth. Though George Washington continues to be held in high esteem as the indispensable keystone to the success of the American Revolution and the country's earliest government, there is no credence to the story that young George either cut down his father's cherry tree, nor that he honestly confessed to the deed upon questioning.

Things are often not what they seem to be. Why, just last week, I was wandering through lower Manhattan, where narrow, twisted streets, darkened in the shadows of financial skyscrapers, wind past venerated landmarks indelibly stamped in historic fact. So impressed I was by the grandeur and stateliness of Washington's statue presiding on the steps of glorious Federal Hall, that I had to stop to take a tourist picture.

George Washington at Federal Hall

Too bad the picture is lying through its teeth, too. Though carefully composed, it did require a strategic cropping out of a pair of police marksmen cradling their automatic rifles as they guarded the New York Stock Exchange entrance from a catecornered distance. I wonder what Washington would have made of it, or of Pastor Weems' folksy vignette, or of my crustless cherry pie. I have to be honest. Though this fruit-studded, spicy treat is billed as a pie, it is nothing remotely like a traditional American pie except for its shape and crumb top. More accurately, it is a dense wheel of very moist custard cake, a cross between a clafoutis and a bread pudding. I loved it for its rustic, comforting charm, butter-rich topping and chewy edges. And that's no lie.

Crustless Cherry Cinnamon Pie - Based on the Betty Crocker apple pie recipe


3 heaping cups pitted, halved sweet cherries (I used Bing)
(Fresh cherries work best. Do not use canned cherry pie filling; it is much too wet.)

1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 tablespoon shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 batch crumb topping (recipe below)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch glass or porcelain pie, tart or quiche dish. Arrange prepared cherries evenly in dish. Reserve.

In a medium bowl, lightly rub flour, salt and shortening between your palms until a uniform, soft-crumbed mixture forms. It will look like very coarse meal. With a whisk, mix in cinnamon and brown sugar to combine. Add milk, eggs and extract, beating thoroughly to create a smooth batter. Pour batter over cherries in dish. Sprinkle crumb topping over entire surface of filling to cover it. Place on center rack of oven on a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Bake for at least 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. For a firmer, less moist texture, continue to bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until the edges are very brown (check every five minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before refrigerating. Pie will set best when fully cold, but can be enjoyed while still warm. For those who prefer a more cake-like texture, reduce milk to 1/3 cup or use only 1 egg. Serves 6-8. --

Crumb Topping (my own recipe)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
½ stick (4 tablespoons) firm butter or margarine, coarsely cubed
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or nut of your choice)


In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Lightly rub and toss butter and dry ingredients between your palms until a uniform, soft-crumbed mixture forms. Handle as little as possible. It will look like very coarse meal. Add almonds, tossing lightly just to distribute evenly.

Since this recipe heavily features cherries, I'm sending it off to Lynne of Cafe Lynnylu, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging # 192 for Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once. WHB is the long-running weekly produce event created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

Cherries, currently ripe for the picking in northern climes, are not only one of the world's most cherished fruits, but are rich in Vitamin C, potassium, fiber and iron. At ninety calories per one-cup serving, naturally sweet black cherries are a guilt-free delight for most diets.

Bing Cherries
Bing Cherries - Black and Sweet

Been There, Done That ~

Cherry Almond Mini Tarts
White Peach Pie
Rosina Pie

Other Peoples' Eats ~

Cherry Pie - Two Ways
No Bake Cherry Cheesecake
Cherry Milkshake


  1. A great idea! That pie looks delightful!



  2. Susan, I don't care what you call this, but I want some - that I know because cherries are such a heavenly treat. A thoroughly enjoyable post, as always.

  3. Oh Susan, Cherries!! How i wish i got atleast a bite off that slice.

    I never get to make anything with cherries. however much i buy they are gone just like that!

  4. I would trade all the crust in the world for this crumb topping . It's always the best part of the pie.

  5. I love crumble on top of pies, vegan crumble that is :)
    I feel silly when I take tourist shots close to where I live lol. Dunno y, no one can tell im not a tourist! :)


  6. Dear susan, of course, that's no lie !! The pie looks delish! especially as I'm on a cherry high nowadays. Btw, I love your stunning, new header...or have I been away too long?

  7. It looks amazingly tasty Susan, whatever it may be!

  8. This looks out of this world. I just love cherry desserts!

  9. No matter if it fits the definition of a pie or not, it fits the definition of delisiou to me! Moist, fruity, crumbly, dense = yummmmmmmsss!!!!
    Cherries are bountiful right now, must make this!
    Thanks Susan!

  10. The presentation of your dishes always impresses me: I wish I had your elegant touch. Your cherry pie is just beautiful and I am sure it tastes wonderful.

  11. My oh my!You just officially blew me away with your cherrie pie..!
    It looks so lusciusly delicious,I can almost smell it from here! I DO believe Im out to find me some cherries! :) Mia

  12. I am quite sure I'd like this much more than any conventional pie. A cross between clafoutis and bread pudding? Sounds divine.

    Great stories! And even we Canadians know the cherry tree story!

  13. Oh my goodness, I am SO excited about this gorgeous pie!! I love your inclusion of GW and your beautiful photo of GW's statue into your story of the cherry pie... As always, your writing is gloriously captivating!

    Thank you so much for your incredibly sweet comment about my housecleaning and the veggie pot pit... :-) You definitely made me blush, and definitely made my day! :-)

  14. Well, I for one, know nothing (or precious little) of American History. But I do so love a myth being debunked.

    He's a handsome fellow, Mr Washington, up there at the stock exchange. I wonder what he would make of the chaos in there right now...

    Beautiful shots. And, and, and texture! Ah-ha moment going on here.

  15. What a great use of cherries and the crumb toppings are perfect for this pie. Those bing cherries look great, I'm going to look out for this variety in our local supermarket.

  16. Such an original way to enjoy cherries! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  17. wow susan that really looks very tempting!...

  18. Just lovely! I thought I hated cherries for years until I tasted them fresh. Now they're one of my favorite fruit. I'm bookmarking this - thanks for sharing!

  19. Thanks, Rosa!

    Lisa - Thanks so much. The cherries have been really plentiful this season.

    Soma - Oh, I know. Sometimes you can find sour cherries (like Montmorency) in the markets. For those, you *have* to prepare in recipes, since they are nearly impossible to eat as is. Sugared up, though, they are as exquisite as their naturally sweet kin.

    Hi, Maris! I do love a crumb top, too.


    Rose - And a vegan crumble is so easy; the butter really isn't missed.

    I spent an entire day walking NYC w/ a camera 'round my neck; it's a different experience. NY is one of the greatest cities in the world, yet so many NYers don't marvel at just what makes it great. 9/11 cured me of taking *anything* for granted.


    Thanks, Sunita! So good to see you!

    Jacqueline - Thanks!

    Hi, Elly. Thanks! Nice to see you!

    Marta - Very sweet of you. Thanks!

    Simona - Thanks always. : }

    Thank you, Mia! Very good to see you.

    Ricki - Thank you! Great myths travel far! : D

    Thank you, dear Astra - now you are making *me* blush. : }


    Lucy - Washington cut a great figure. Don't think he would be non-plussed by our current economic mess; he's been there, done that.

    Ah-ha...texture...: } TA.


    Wiffy - Thanks. I imagine cherries would be fairly pricey in Singapore, but worth ever sou.

    Karine - Welcome! Thanks for your visit and kind words.

    Hi, Srivalli - Thank you!

    Welcome, Xiaolu! Thanks so much. Canned cherries can taste just awful, like tin and prunes (I don't like them, either)- fresh, as you know now, are quite a revelation.

  20. that cherry pie looks wonderful - I am sure washington would have a large piece!

    And I love your new banner (I think it is new - it is looking good anyway!)

  21. This looks amazing. Do you think it would work with blueberries?

  22. Thanks, Susan. : ) And it *does* work for blueberries. Here's the result.

  23. Your "crustless" pie looks delicious.
    What mcaught my eye though was your bowl of cherries. Would like to know how you achieved that effect in your pic. I'm guessing it's photoshop? Thanks.

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