So, my fiance had been hinting about cherry pie for… years but pastry is something I have no real experience with and it’s always scared me a bit. But over Valentine’s week I wanted to do something special, so I hunted down these recipes on Serious Eats, adapted them slightly and I was really happy with the results (if we forget about the fact the crust slightly burnt…). This may well be the most elaborate recipe I post because it’s pastry BUT (for pastry) it’s pretty relaxed which I like – expect the rest of my recipes to be more low key.
One thing the original authors suggest is a tempered-glass (Pyrex) dish – I ordered one from Amazon (this one for £4) because I think the cookware you use does make a big difference, and the crust did crisp up beautifully so I think it was worth it (though I have no comparison – if you try it with something else, let me know in the comments).
RECIPE – CHERRY PIE WITH FLAKY PASTRY
As I said, this is heavily based on the Serious Eats recipes linked above – I’ve combined them for simplicity, added my own notes, and changed a few things here and there (some just because I had different things in the cupboard). You’ll note that the pastry is the only aspect I give precise measurements for – the filling and egg wash are super forgiving and you can adjust to taste or based on quantities in your kitchen.
Timings – From start to finish it’s gonna be at least 7 hours because there’s lots of chilling and it needs to sit for 3 hours after being cooked. This is not something you can quickly whip up in an evening and is probably best made over a day off!
Also, make sure you have a bit of space within your fridge for chilling a pie dish and a chopping board, both lined with pastry dough!
- 225g plain flour (plus a little more for dusting)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- sprinkle of salt
- 225g cold butter
- 115g cold tap water
- 700-800g of pitted cherries (or more or less depending on what pastry to filling ratio you prefer) – I used one 410g can of red cherry pie filling and one defrosted 350g bag of dark sweet cherries which I think was a nice combination
- around 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 150-200g sugar
- sprinkle of salt
- around 1tbsp cornstarch (more if you’re not using a can of cherry pie filling which already has something similar)
- sprinkle of cinammon, splash of vanilla extract or any other flavour you think might be nice
Egg wash (optional)
- 1 egg
- splash of milk or cream
- sprinkle of salt
Before you start, if you are using frozen cherries, take them out of the freezer!
First we’ll make the pastry. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Then cut the cold butter into small cubes (around a 1/2 inch – a bit smaller than your fingertips) and tip these cubes into the flour mixture. Toss them together and then start smushing the cubes of butter into the flour, against the side of the bowl, with your fingertips until pretty much every cube has been smushed once – no rubbing in and yes there’ll be lots of chunks of butter throughout the mixture. Then pour in the cold water, give it a stir, and then start kneading the dough against the side of the bowl until it comes together in a shaggy ball. If it feels like it’s starting to warm / if it’s a hot day, put this dough briefly in the fridge. We want the butter to stay as fairly discrete cold chunks in the dough until it goes in the oven.
Next, flour a work surface and roll the dough out into a rectangle. Fold both of the short sides into the centre, then fold this new shape like a book (i.e. take the left half and fold it over onto the right half). Then fold in half again, bringing the short sides together. You’ll have a thick block with lots of folds and chunks of butter throughout which will create the flaky layers once cooked! Now use a sharp knife to divide this thick block in half – one half will be for the bottom of the pie and the other will be for the design on top. Again, if it feels like it’s starting to warm up/ if it’s a hot day, put the dough briefly in the fridge.
Then, take one block (the bigger one if they’re not so even) and roll it on a floured surface into a vaguely circle/oval shape (or whatever the shape of your pie dish), enough so that you can drape it over the dish with a few inches hanging down the sides. It should be easy to manage and you can press the dough into the shape of the dish. Then trim this dough so only an inch is hanging all around. Cover with clingfilm and you can now put this in the fridge. With the other block, either do the same dish shape if you want to cover the whole of your pie, or create a rectangle if you want to do a lattice or other design on top – don’t cut any shapes yet though, just place this sheet of dough onto a cutting board lined with baking paper. Again, cover with clingfilm and you can now put this in the fridge. Then leave both of these in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
While the pastry is chilling, we can make the filling! All you need to do is combine all the filling ingredients in a pan, maybe a splash of water if you’re not using any canned filling with some liquid, and put on a very low heat for a 3-10 minutes (if you wanna leave it on a low heat while you do something, it’ll be fine – equally you can probably skip this altogether but I liked having everything combine properly before assembling the pie). Taste it to make sure it’s the right sweet/sharp balance for you, and adjust with sugar or lemon juice as you see fit. Then take it off the heat and let it cool down with plenty of time before your dough is chilled.
Once your dough has been chilled for at least two hours, then bring it out of the fridge and pour the filling into your dough-lined dish. Then use your other sheet to do whatever topping you fancy – Serious Eats has a great tutorial on lattice tops here with invaluable photos. Press the dough together around the edge of the dish and trim away any excess. (When I did mine, I didn’t leave enough of an overhang and ended up adding patches of dough to fill in gaps – still turned out fine!). Then put back in the fridge for half an hour. While it’s doing its final chill, preheat the oven to around 190°C (375 farenheit).
Before putting it in the oven, if you want to do the egg wash (purely to give it a more golden look), combine the ingredients in a bowl and brush over with a pastry brush.
Then place the pie on a baking sheet lined with baking paper (to catch any cherry filling that bubbles up). I cooked it for an hour at 190°C in a fan oven and the outer crust burnt within that time – so I’d recommend checking on it after 45 minutes, and once it’s golden cover with some loose foil to cook a bit more until the filling is bubbling right in the centre. Top tip – a dusting of icing sugar helps distract from slight burnt bits…
Finally, the hardest bit of all – wait for about 3 hours for the pie to cool (otherwise the filling won’t set and will be thin and runny). Then serve with ice-cream, whipped cream, creme fraiche or whatever takes your fancy! Apparently leftovers will last up to 3 days at room temperature but it didn’t last longer than 24 hours in my house…. Enjoy!