I’ve made some delicious pies with bright and bold flavors lately (see coconut cream and key lime), but there’s one main problem. Those pies only have one crust, on the bottom, and in both cases it was made of graham cracker crumbs. Now, I love a graham cracker crust as much as the next person, but I’ve been seriously craving some honest-to-goodness flaky, buttery pie crust. Top and bottom preferred. I’ve done a lot of baking with blueberries and strawberries, and have even dabbled with raspberries and blackberries, but aside from the cherry crisp that I made last summer, my cherry baking has been lacking. Given my urge to eat pie crust and my desire to delve into some cherry baking, I decided that it was high-time I made a cherry pie.
I love pretty much all fruit, including cherries, however on my quest to make my first-ever cherry pie I quickly found out what a cherry novice I am. I’m very familiar with the Bing cherry (nice, dark and sweet – a favorite for snacking), as well as the Rainier cherry, which is more yellowish-orange in color, but still sweet. I figured I would pop into the store, buy a bag or two of cherries, and be on my merry pie-making way. Not so fast. I hit up almost 10 (yes, 10!) cookbooks scoping out cherry pie recipes and every.single.one called for tart or sour cherries. Whaaaaat?! I’m obviously in a cherry bubble. So, I went to multiple stores looking for fresh sour cherries. No dice. Then, I looked for frozen sour cherries. I couldn’t find those either. Finally, in one of the books they laid it on me that sour cherry season lasts only a couple of weeks, and so it’s likely that jarred or canned cherries would need to be used for a good cherry pie. I headed to the canned fruit aisle and found canned sour/tart cherries that were packed in water, which is what I used for this recipe.
Along with needing pie crust in my belly and wanting to bake with cherries, I thought I was about due to re-visit the beauty that is a lattice-top pie crust. I’ve only made one once before, waaaaaay back in the dark ages of 2008 when I made a blueberry pie, but I just adore the look. It feels like a throw back – retro, vintage, very 1950’s and Donna Reed – when you had the extra few minutes to do something fancy with the top of your pie. It really does only take a few extra minutes of time and isn’t difficult (I included a series of step-by-step photos below in the recipe), but gives a pie that extra kick of pizzazz. Who doesn’t love pizzazz?
This pie is packed with cherries, which are sweetened just the right amount, kicked up a bit with a splash of almond extract and thickened with cornstarch. It’s a quintessential summer pie and would be perfect served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or a tower of whipped cream (or both!).
One year ago: Angel Food Cake
Two years ago: Monster Cookies
Three years ago: No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies
For the Pie Dough:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 7 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 10 tablespoons ice water
For the Pie Filling:
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 6 cups sour cherries, pitted (See note below.)
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
For the Topping:
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1. Make the Pie Dough: Process the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if the dough will not come together. Divide the dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other. (If possible, weigh the pieces; they should weigh 16 ounces and 14 ounces.) Flatten the larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and the smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; wrap separately in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll the larger piece of dough to a 15×11-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick; transfer the dough rectangle to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a pizza wheel, fluted pastry wheel or paring knife, trim the long sides of the rectangle to make them straight, then cut the rectangle lengthwise into 8 equal strips.
4. Next, roll the smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate. Working around the circumference of the pan, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing into the pan bottom with the other hand. Leave the dough that overhangs the lip of the pie plate in place. Place the baking sheet with the strips of dough in the freezer and the dough-lined pie plate in the refrigerator; chill for 30 minutes.
5. Make the Pie Filling: Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on it and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt; set aside. Place the cherries in a large bowl and stir in the almond extract. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the cherries and using a rubber spatula, gently mix together until combined.
7. Turn the cherry mixture into the dough-lined pie plate, remove the strips of dough from the freezer (if they are too stiff to be workable, let stand at room temperature until softened slightly but still very cold) and top with a lattice design as described below:
8. Lay 4 strips of dough, evenly spaced, across the pie horizontally. Fold the first and third strips back, then place a strip of dough slightly to the right of the center, perpendicular to the others. Unfold the first and third strips over the perpendicular strip and fold the second and fourth strips back. Add a second perpendicular strip. Now unfold the second and fourth strips. Repeat this process with 2 more perpendicular strips (you will have 4 strips of dough running in each directions).
9. Trim the lattice strips and crimp the pie edges. Lightly brush the lattice top with the water and sprinkle with sugar.
10. Lower the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake until the crust is set and begins to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Rotate the pie and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees; continue baking until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Cool the pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.
Note: Sour cherries are only season for a couple of weeks during the summer for most places, so if you blink you could miss them. If you can’t find fresh cherries, you can substitute frozen (not thawed), as well as jarred or canned sour/tart cherries. If you buy them jarred or canned, you will need 72 ounces total; be sure to drain them very well and pat them dry with a paper towel before using them in the recipe.