TCP Kitchen
Your Best Pies
Finding perfect ideas for dessert this month is easy as, well, pie

Brent Hofacker |

Pie Birds

They’re more cute than essential, but what’s wrong with that? Pie bird steamers might have nested in your mother’s pantry, but they hatched in England for venting meat pies: The open mouths allow steam to escape, averting a soggy crust. (Cutting slits in the top crust accomplishes the same goal.) 


To use a pie bird, place it in the center of the bottom uncooked crust. Place filling around bird. Cut a circle in center of top crust for the bird to peek through, then top pie, crimp, and bake.


Even if you don’t use them regularly, a collection of pie birds makes a cheery addition to any kitchen. Look for vintage birds at antique fairs or thrift shops. You can find new pie birds at Sur la Table or King Arthur Flour.

What makes a home (or roadside café) more inviting than homemade pie? Because few desserts inspire more devotion, we asked for your favorite ways to fill a crust. Whether you prefer a lattice topping or a cloud of meringue, buttermilk custard or fresh fruit, you’ll find a recipe here to make your family swoon. This Cherry Pie recipe is from the recently published The Best of Typically Texas Cookbook ($29.95; price includes tax, shipping and handling), Texas Co-op Power’s collection of over 700 recipes that celebrate the legacy of Texas home cooks who have been making great food, and plenty of pies, for decades.


Cherry Pie

Elaine Pearson | O’Donnell, Lyntegar EC

This recipe has long been a family favorite, says Pearson, although she’s tweaked the old standby over the years. “I have added and taken away until it is just right for us,” she says.

1 can (14 ounces) sour cherries, drained and chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons tapioca
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cherry juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Red food coloring (optional)
2 9-inch pie crusts, unbaked Ground nutmeg, to taste
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, cut into small chunks
Cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Combine the cherries, tapioca, sugar, cherry juice, almond extract, salt and food coloring, if using, in a mixing bowl and let mixture stand for a few minutes.

3. Pour into an unbaked pie crust that has been lightly dusted with nutmeg. Dot with butter.

4. Cut second crust into strips and make lattice-type top crust. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.

5. Bake until bubbly and nicely browned.