Whoever coined the phrase, “Easy as pie!” clearly has never actually made a pie. I am not afraid to say the truth: Pie is not easy. In fact, pie is so tricky, so time consuming, and so able to go wrong, that the bakery I own does not even sell pie. How’s that for an intro to a post on Cherry Pie? Have I scared you away?
Hang with me.
Pie is not easy, but pie is delicious, particularly cherry pie. Flaky layers of crust, golden brown and slightly sweet, wrapped around a filling that is bursting with tart cherries and flavors of summer. It’s sublime, if not simple. And I am here to show you that yes you can make this at home.
The thing about making pie is it is perfectly suited for the home cook. Yes, it takes time, but most of it is unattended. I love this recipe because I can make it early in the day, then bake it later (or even the next day). It is a showstopper of a dessert, worthy to be wrapped with a bow and given as a gift. I would love nothing more than to receive this pie as a gift from a friend. Can you even imagine?
After trying a lot of different methods and recipes, I am happy today to share with you my Cherry Pie recipe. It is delicious, relatively easy (for pie), and will yield a finished product that will stand up when sliced instead of being a soupy mess on your plate. In fact, you don’t even have to bother with homemade pie crust if you don’t want to. In this case, pre-packaged refrigerated dough is fine enough. As noted on the recipe, don’t buy the store brand. Spring for the brand name (Pillsbury is my favorite).
Summer is coming quickly to an end, and there is no better way to end the season than with a homemade cherry pie. I hope you give this one a try and let me know how it turned out!
for the filling…
2 pounds frozen cherries (or pitted fresh cherries)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (usually from 2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
for the crust…
You will need two disks of pie dough. You can either make your own, or you can purchase pie dough from the refrigerated case at any grocery store. My one piece of advice is to go with the name brand version instead of the generic store brand. In my part of the country, this means Pillsbury. The difference in quality is very noticeable and worth the extra cost.
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water or half-and-half
chunky sugar for sprinkling on top (regular sugar will work in a pinch)
To make the filling, combine the frozen cherries (no need to defrost), granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and Kosher salt in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. It is very important that your heat is not too hot. You are going to gently cook the cherries, stirring occasionally. If the heat is too hot, the bottom will scorch and burn.
As the cherries begin to thaw, they will release some water and the mixture will begin to look very loose. This is a good sign! Once the cherries seem to have thawed, you can turn the heat up a bit (maybe to medium or medium-high) and watch closely. You are looking to bring the mixture up to a boil, giving it a stir from time to time. Once you see large bubbles popping on the surface, remove it from the heat. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
The cherry mixture needs to be at room temperature (or chilled) before pouring into the pie crust. Otherwise, the hot cherry mixture will melt the pie dough. You can chill the filling overnight and assemble and bake the pie the next day, or you can let it cool to room temperature for several hours before proceeding.
Once you are ready to assemble the pie, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I suggest placing your pie plate on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet to catch any drips.
Roll out one of the pie dough disks (or unwrap from the packaging) and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. I like to use glass pie plates so that I can clearly see the bottom of the pie and judge when the crust is sufficiently browned underneath before removing it from the oven, but a foil or ceramic pie plate will work fine too.
Pour the cooled cherry pie filling on top of the pie dough in the bottom of the pie plate. If you want to make a lattice topping for your pie, slice the second piece of pie dough into strips and weave it into a lattice. There is a great video on The Kitchn website that will show you exactly how to do this.
Alternatively, you can place the second piece of pie dough on top in one piece. Make sure you cut several slices into the top dough to allow the steam to escape. Whatever you choose, pinch the edges of the two crusts together all around the edge and crimp close. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with chunky sugar.
Bake the pie until the bottom crust is no longer raw, the fruit filling is bubbling, and the top is a very toasty shade of brown. Depending on your oven and the beginning temperature of the filling, this can take up to 90 minutes. I would begin checking your pie after one hour. Once it is done baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for several hours before serving.
Slice and serve!
Click below for a printable copy of the recipe!