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Pioneer Bar-B-Que's comfort-style baking was its signature draw

Restaurant was a "must-stop" for many taking the Preston-to-Kitchener bus line, writes chef Wayne Conrad Serbu

Pioneer Bar-B-Que was a well-known eatery once located on Sports World Drive as a destination restaurant between Preston and Kitchener.

The trolleys and later bus service got the local folks out and about on various stops along King Street East.

Between the time it opened in 1927 and until it closed in 2017, Pioneer Bar-B-Que was serving a home comfort meat-and-potatoes menu to a loyal following, starting at the Fountain Street location and later moving to a new, more user-friendly accessible restaurant at the Sports World location.

Many went for the barbecue buns filled with loose meat pulled pork, chicken and beef. The barbecued beef, pork ribs and chicken were the signature items as well as burgers, steaks, fish and chips.

But the home comfort style baking was the restaurant's signature draw.

There was an extensive dessert menu with pies, cakes and goodies all made in house by the many home lady bakers recipes.

My dad and I both worked with some of these cooks and one of my favourite recipes was their Cherry Apple Fruit Pie.

Cherry happens to be my favourite baked pie. I love the smell of cherries baking in the oven. Breathing in the infusion of cherry flavour heightens my mellow.

Anthocyanins found in cherries may also be responsible for helping to reduce migraines, lower blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

More specifically Anthocyanin may be able to lower the free radical damage that causes your body to feel and show age. Eaten fresh, dried or juiced, cherries should be a part of your daily intake.

Like the saying, adding an apple a day keeps the doctor away the same is said about cherries. Making pie gives the whole house a refreshing aroma. Pick your favourite fruit and here we go.

You will need:

The following is a very simple pie dough recipe so use your own if you prefer.

For the pie crust

2 cups unbleached pastry flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter chilled

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Sift ingredients into a bowl and cut in the cold butter and shortening.

Add the moisture and blend in.

Turn out on a floured surface and roll out 2/3s for the crust and 1/3 for the lid.

Place the dough into a Pyrex pie dish and form around the edges.

For the filling

1 small apple peeled and sliced

4 cups of washed and pitted Bing cherries

1 heaping tbsp orange marmalade

1 cup sugar or adjust to taste using sweeteners like Splenda, apple butter or Stevia 

1 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch or tapioca starch

1/2 tsp of almond extract or Amaretto liqueur

Toss the cherries and apple slices with the marmalade and place into the pie crust.

Evenly dust-coat the filling with the mixture of sugar and cornstarch.

Sprinkle around the almond extract or liqueur.

Cover with a vented pastry lid.

Brush with some egg wash and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until crust is flaky and browned.

Do not open the oven door while baking as it will cause the cherries to collapse prematurely. That's also the reason for the pectin in the marmalade, to keep the fruit firm.

Cool down on a wire rack and then enjoy the benefits of eating a homemade fresh fruit pie.

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.