Bing cherries have hit the supermarket and I couldn’t rest until I’d turned some into a pie. Traditionally, bakers use tart pie cherries, but those aren’t always easy to find . . . so I improvised. (Any sweet cherry will do.) The Man actually used the word “superb” when he took his first bite.
You won’t need much sugar in this recipe, but fresh lemon is a must to add a touch of tang. The filling is thick, resulting in neat slices once the pie has cooled. Throw in a thick, flaky pie crust and a tower of whipped cream (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and you have a spectacular dessert.
I made the mistake of using an extra-large pie pan (because, red) so my pie wasn’t as deep as I would have liked, but if you use a standard deep-dish pie pan, 2 pounds of cherries is going to be just right.
I’m giving you a generous recipe for pie crust so the crust can be thicker and you’ll have a little left over if you’d like to play with decorations. I made some leaves and cherries, which would have been more obvious on a solid top crust instead of the lattice, but still . . . cute.
|Sweet Cherry Pie
- 2 pounds of fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved (about 5 cups)
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch (3 tablespoons if you like your pie soft)
- juice and zest of 1 large lemon, separated
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup cold shortening
- ¼ cup cold butter
- 1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
- ⅓ cup cold milk
- BEFORE BAKING:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
- sparkling sugar
- FILLING:In a large saucepan on medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (reserve the zest for later) salt, and cinnamon. Stir frequently until mixture begins to bubble, then continue to cook for 6 minutes. Filling will be thick.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool, stirring occasionally.
- CRUST: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening, using a pastry blender or your fingers. Aim for lumps of butter no larger than good-sized peas.
- Combine the vodka and milk, and add all at once to the pastry. Stir just until combined.
- Divide in half. Roll one piece out on a well-floured board, rolling from the center to the outside - about ⅛ inch thick. Cut a circle at least 1 inch bigger all around than your pie pan. Roll lightly onto floured rolling pin and lift into pan. Fold excess under and crimp edges. Place pan in the refrigerator.
- With the other piece of dough, cut strips for a lattice crust, using a ruler to keep them straight. Mine were about 1-inch thick and long enough to reach across the top of the pie pan. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour. Lay 4 or 5 strips parallel to each other, leaving space between each strip. Work with one side at a time, folding every other piece over at the center. Lay a piece across the remaining strips and gently replace the folded pieces. Now fold back the pieces that had remained down before, place another piece next to the other cross piece, and replace the folded pieces. Repeat once more to complete the side. Do the same with the other side and cut around the edge to make a circle the same size as the top of the pie. Press around the edges with your finger. Place the lattice crust in the freezer for now.
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Once the filling has cooled, remove the pie from the refrigerator and fill. Cut the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and drop them all over the top of the filling. Remove the lattice from the freezer and slide it onto the top of the pie. (You may need to use a thin cutting mat or baking sheet to help it along.)
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar.
- Bake 55-60 minutes. If your crust begins to get too brown, cover lightly with foil.
- Allow the pie to cool for 1½ - 2 hours before cutting.
If you like your pie a little on the soft side, reduce the cornstarch to 3 tablespoons. Otherwise, if you don’t gobble it up while it’s warm, it gets fairly firm in the refrigerator. Personally, I like it that way. Holds the ice cream up better, right?
I’m leaving for a short writing retreat, but when I get back I’ll have something good to post – I’m just out of time right now! Hint: it has fresh huckleberries in it!