Before this weekend I don’t think I’ve ever had a bite of cherry pie. Whenever I’ve thought of cherry pie the image that always comes to mind is something completely unremarkable made from canned cherry pie filling, and that has been very off-putting. And so I’ve gone without.
Cherries are in season and abundant right now and one day while walking through the grocery store I had an epiphany. I love cherries. I love pie. I could make my very own cherry pie from actual cherries! I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. It was time I found out whether or not I actually like cherry pie.
And it turns out that I do. I really, really do.
While researching recipes I discovered that most cherry pies are made from sour cherries, not the sweet variety that I found at the store. Thankfully sweet cherry pies do exist and the recipe I used for inspiration came from Smitten Kitchen but I also consulted with a friend whose mother lives surrounded by cherry trees and is famous for her pies. Their recipes were very similar and so I figured I was on the right track.
I prepared the pie crust, using a recipe Joy the Baker had just posted to her site. Then I pitted a few pounds of cherries (which was very messy. Be sure to wear a full apron, and plan to wipe down all nearby surfaces afterwards). I mixed the cherries with a few other ingredients, topped it with a lattice crust and popped it in the oven to bake.
This pie was beautiful. The crust was golden and flaky, the filling was firm and held up nicely, and the cherries were sweet and juicy. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it was a revelation, at least to me.
I do love sweet cherry pie!
Sweet Cherry Pie
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one pie
One double pie crust (recipe below)
2 1/2 pounds (about 4 cups) sweet cherries, pitted
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons instant tapioca
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Stir together the sugar, instant tapioca, lemon zest, lemon juice, and almond extract. Toss with the pitted cherries to coat. Pour into prepared pie crust and top with bits of butter. Cover topping with second pie crust. If you’re covering the pie completely with crust (no lattice), be sure to cut vents for steam to escape. Brush top crust with egg wash and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.
Bake for 25 minutes or until just turning brown. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until juices are bubbling.
Cool on a wire rack completely to set the juices.
If serving warm, heat in a 250 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Buttermilk Pie Crust
From Joy the Baker
Makes one double pie crust
1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into one inch pieces
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and toss to coat the butter. Dump entire contents of the bowl out onto a well-floured surface. With a well-floured rolling pin, roll the mixture together, flattening the butter into the flour. Use a bench scraper to bring the mixture back together again as needed. When the butter is in long sheets and evenly distributed through the flour, return the mixture to the bowl and create a well in the center.
Add the buttermilk into the well and use your fingers or a wooden spoon to combine. Add a more buttermilk a tablespoon at a time, if necessary, but the mixture should be a little on the dry side. Dump the contents back onto your floured surface and form into two equally sized ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for one hour or overnight.
When ready to make your pie, unwrap one of the balls of dough and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured surface. Transfer to a pie dish, trim the crust to about 1/2 overhang and chill for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, roll out the second ball. Fill the pie and cover with the second crust. Pinch together the edges into a fluted pattern.
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