Cherries are one of my favorite summer fruits; as soon as they come into season I always make sure I have them in my fridge. So it goes without saying that cherry pie is my favorite of all fruit pies. This recipe is all from-scratch, and trust me, it's worth it! I used to be intimidated by making my own pie crust from scratch, I thought the whole process was too involved and tricky. After doing it several times, and improving each time, I realized it's actually very easy, you just need to understand the golden rule of keeping all the ingredients cold. Only use as much water as you need for mixing the dough. It also pays to make some room in your freezer for the pie, so you can put it in there 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. This will ensure that the crust stays intact and the sides don't droop. Don't be intimidated by pie dough any longer! We got this ;) The crust is made with a mixture of butter and shortening, which gives it a great taste and a beautifully flaky texture.
Pitting cherries is quite time consuming, so I can't stress enough to invest in a cherry pitter. I've put a link to one at the end of this post. It takes the grunt work out of pitting, and it's a necessity considering the amount of cherries this recipe has: 4.5 cups! Bonus: the pitter can also be used for olives.
The thing I love most about this pie is the fresh cherries. I don't advise using frozen ones for this recipe, as it could become very soupy. The fresh cherries hold their shape in the oven, and the crust stays nice and crisp, with no soggy pie bottom. If you are used to the cherry pies where the filling comes from a can, this pie is the complete opposite. The cherries actually remain quite firm, which I prefer. If, however, you prefer a softer filling, you could cook the cherries first on the stovetop before adding to the pie. Just keep in mind, this will make the pie more liquid-y and it may not set as well after cooling.
A 'secret' ingredient adds a special something to the flavor of the cherries: almond extract. It may sound strange, but it takes the flavor from a 9 to a 10. It's definitely a must for an amazing tasting pie.
I love eating this pie with a dollop of fresh cream or ice cream. Individual slices can be heated in the microwave for about 25 seconds. Cherry bliss!
*Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.
For the homemade crust:
2 & 1/4 cups (315g) all-purpose flour
1 & 1/4 teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3/4 cup (148g) vegetable shortening
1/2-3/4 cup (120-177 ml) ice water
For the filling:
4 & 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter, chilled & cubed
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
Coarse sugar for sprinkling on crust
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add the butter and shortening.
- Using a pastry cutter (or 2 forks), cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal (pea-sized bits with a few larger chunks is ok).
- Measure 1/2 cup water, add ice cubes and stir. From that, measure your 1/2 cup of water, as the ice cubes will melt slightly. Add the water to the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon after every addition. Only add as much water as needed. Stop adding water once the dough resembles large clumps.
- Place the dough onto a floured work surface, it should come together easily and not be overly sticky. Fold the dough into itself until the flour is fully incorporated into the fats. Do not over-handle. Form dough into a ball, then cut in half. Flatten each half into a 1-inch flat disc and wrap each disc separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 5 days).
- Make the filling: in a large bowl, stir together the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla & almond extracts. Set filling aside in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Once dough has been chilled, take one of the discs from the refrigerator and place on a floured work surface. Always use gentle force with your rolling pin. Starting in the center, roll dough out carefully, turning it as you go. Keep rolling until you have a 12-inch diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch or 9.5-inch by 2-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it's smooth.
- Spoon the filling into the crust, discarding any leftover juices in the bottom of the bowl. Dot the pieces of butter on top of the filling.
- Arrange the lattice: Remove the second disc of dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a circle, 12 inches in diameter. Using a pastry wheel, or sharp knife, cut strips of dough about 1 inch wide. Carefully place each strip on top of the crust, evenly spaced across. Repeat with a second layer to criss-cross the strips.
- Using a clean pair of kitchen scissors, cut the overhanging edges off so they are even. You want to have about 1 inch overhang, this will become the outer crust. Once cut, start folding the overhang upward, so it fits neatly on the outer rim of the pie dish. Flute or crimp the edges with a fork if desired.
- Lightly brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. Then, place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and place a pie crust shield over the crust to prevent it from browning too quickly. Bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.
- Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for a full 3 hours at room temperature before serving. This allows the filling to rest and thicken up. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead: pie can be made one day in advance and covered tightly and stored at room temperature. Pie crust dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Freezing: baked pie can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Items I used to make this pie: