My best friend in college had a big thing for canned cherry pie filling. Like, she'd just eat it out of the can with a spoon. Even back then, when I lived off of Ramen noodles and PB&J sandwiches, I thought that was pretty gross. Since that is what I always associated cherry pie with, it was never really a dessert that appealed to me. I don't think I had ever had one made with fresh cherries. I first came across this recipe last summer in Cook's Illustrated, and I was definitely intrigued. I really love fresh cherries, and of course I trust Cook's Illustrated to elevate pretty much anything to delicious status.
This pie has a few interesting steps, as does any CI recipe. First, part of the cherries are pureed, while some are left whole. In addition to the pureed cherries, the filling contains pureed plums as well. The plums help to cut the sweetness of the cherries a bit. As with many fruit pies, tapioca is added to the filling as a thickening agent, but the recipe instructs you to pulse it in a food processor first. I did this the first time I made it, but didn't bother the next time, and I didn't see any ill effects.
I so wanted to do a lattice crust on this pie because really, what is prettier than a cherry pie with a lattice crust? But the recipe instructs that a full pie crust is better to keep the moisture in - lattice crusts will result in a drier filling.
I was so disappointed when I made this last summer because I never took a picture to blog, but it just meant that I had to make it again. I baked this pie for our Fourth of July dinner, and served with vanilla ice cream, it was a perfectly patriotic and summery dessert. Even though cherry season is winding down for the summer and pitting 2 pounds of cherries is a real pain, I am tempted to make it one more time - I'm just not sure that I can go another full year without enjoying it!
Sweet Cherry Pie
barely adapted from Cook's Illustrated, July/August 2010
- 1 recipe for a double pie crust
- 2 red plums, halved and pitted
- 6 cups (about 2 lbs) fresh cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbs bourbon
- 2 Tbs instant tapioca
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 egg, lightly beaten with water, for egg wash
For the filling, combine the plums and 1 cup of the cherries in the food processor and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Strain into a large bowl to remove the skins, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible from the solids.
Stir in the remaining cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, tapioca, and cinnamon. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Pour the filling and all its liquid into the prepared pie plate and ssprinkle the butter over the top. Roll our the second pie crust into an 11-inch circle and carefully transfer to the top of the pie using the rolling pin. Leave at least a 1/2-inch overhang.
Flute the edges or press together using the tines of a fork. Use a sharp knife to make 8 evenly spaced 1-inch slits in the top of the crust, and brush the top and sides with egg wash. Chill pie for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and place a baking sheet on the oven rack. Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling over and the crust is golden-brown.
Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 2-3 hours before serving.