Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate A

The best way to eat cherries? Fresh, straight out of the greengrocer’s brown bag. Preferably while sitting on a park bench, people watching. Wet wipes would be handy, but the stains are a small price to pay for such a delectable, short lived summer treat. For years, I argued with some, err, liveliness on the sin that was a cooked cherry. Why would you do that? It only gets gooey, losing that taut texture to it’s tight, glossy skin; it just about manages to contain the burst of juiciness under it. Also, crucially, a lot of my experience of cooked cherries were those horrid, vile, slimy, sugar coated glace cherries. I apologise if this was, or is, a passionately loved treat. I was that weird kid, sitting in a corner, plucking out the chemical tasting candy peels and the glace cherries and to be perfectly honest, that hasn’t changed. Another sample was canned cherry pie filling. I had it once at an acquaintance’s house, where it lay slumped, thickly, over a no-bake cheesecake. Good manners dictated I eat and pretend to enjoy it in her house. Nature demanded I vent my disgust in my own home!

I’ve grown up in some ways and long held stances weaken. I have come to understand, that what I inherently disliked about cooked cherries, was that almond extract back note that seemed to emerge when subjected to heat. Same reason for not being a shop bought marzipan lover.  I adore almonds, love ’em, but am not fond of the soapy-metallic note of the extract. Bitter almonds and apricot kernels share the same flavour notes as the seeds of cherries and I think, chemicals too. I would imagine heat draws out the oils in cherries that are similar to the ones in bitter almonds.  That’s why cherries pair so well with almonds and explains why I don’t like them cooked.

So why make a cherry pie? Well, because I know when someone else I know, knows better, you know? My Scottish pal and editor-in-chief Mhairi and I got to talking recipes and she gave me her cherry pie recipe. I trust this woman’s palate (and more besides) implicitly. If she says it’s good, that’s because it is. I made it. I photographed it all. I kept thinking that this mammoth effort was all for naught. This pie wasn’t going to change nature. It did. Spectacularly so.

Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate B
Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate C Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate C Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate ECherry Pie The Patterned Plate F

Mhairi’s original calls for lemon zest and juice. I used orange instead. The cherries I had were sweet but tart enough, so using sweeter orange as a flavour partner was perfect. If your punnet of cherries are quite sweet, then I would go with the lemon for some lip smacking contrast. She recommended a high fat ratio shortcrust and that gave the flakiest, butteriest pastry base. The cherries had softened, releasing their glorious dark purple-maroon juices but still retaining a hint of bite and texture. The almond note was there, coming in softly a second after the fruity flavour, but with the citrus camaraderie, they gelled together, instead of jarring, in the way that an almond-orange cake would. I imagine that lemon would work in the exact same way. The end result was that I couldn’t stop eating it. Two fat slices later, I came up for breath, with a stained white shirt!

Cherry Pie The Patterned Plate G

The Scotsman got a generous slice with vanilla ice cream after dinner. I asked him as he was devouring the third huge forkful, ” Anything to add?”. He brought the plate to his eye level, peered into the purple coloured heart of the pie slice, finished his mouthful and said, ” No, it’s really good just as it is.” Man speak translated to –  It’s Bloomin Marvelous!

I am pleased to be proven wrong. Cherry Pie, with all it’s homely American connotations, has finally reached my home, albeit through a Glasgow route. Wherever it entered from, it’s not leaving.

Mhairi's Cherry Pie

For the pastry
200 gm all purpose, plain flour
140 gm very cold butter, cubed
1-1/2 tbsp of ice cold freshly squeezed orange juice or the same of ice cold water*
Pinch of salt

*If using lemon instead of orange, add the zest of one lemon and use ice cold water.

For the filling
1 kg of stoned, fresh cherries
70 gm caster sugar
30 gm of plain flour
2  tablespoons orange/lemon juice
Zest of half an orange or one whole lemon (optional, I added orange zest to mine)
25 gm butter

First, start with the pastry. In a roomy bowl, add sifted flour and cubed butter. Freeze for 15 minutes. Take out of the freezer and rub the butter cubes and flour gently between your fingertips. Continue until there are no large chunks of butter and the mix looks like large breadcrumbs. Add the salt. Add the liquid (either juice or water) a little at a time, just enough to bring the pastry together. I do this by holding my fingers in a stiff, claw like position, and moving my arm firmly around the bowl, bring in the flour and liquid to form a rough dough. Start with just under a tablespoon, adding more only if required. Tip the mix out of the bowl, knead swiftly and gently to bring it together to form a dough, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for at least one hour. As it’s a high butter ratio pastry, it will soften quickly when you work with it, so it needs to have a decent chill before you begin. If you see flecks of butter in the dough, that’s perfect as this is what gives pastry flakey layers.

You can also make pastry in the food processor. Pulse the butter and the flour together, until they resemble breadcrumbs. Still pulsing, add the liquid, and pulse, till it looks like it’s just about to start clumping into balls. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Don’t add too much water as that will make the dough tough. Tip it onto a clean worksurface. Knead gently and swiftly, until it comes together as a dough, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for an hour.

After an hour, take your dough out of the fridge. If it’s quite hard, leave it for 10 minutes to soften a little so as to roll out easier. I prefer rolling my dough between sheets of clingfilm or wax paper as it doesn’t require extra flouring and reduces the mess. If you do it this way, remember to remove the paper/film on the pastry from time to time, so that it can roll out properly. Roll your dough to about 4mm thickness and line a 20-21 cm, lightly buttered pie dish, using the baking paper or clingfilm to help lift and place the pastry into place. Trim the edges and place the pie dish back in the fridge while you weave a latticed pastry topping with the remaining pastry. Preheat the oven to 180-200 deg C.

For the lattice, weaved pastry top – This picture tutorial explains how to do it. I did mine on wax sheets, which I then placed on a baking sheet and left in the fridge to rest. I then turned the wax paper over the filled pie and cut the excess as needed.

For the filling – Mix all the filling ingredients together, except the butter.

Take the lined pie dish out of the fridge and fill with the cherry mix, dot with blobs of the butter, levelling the filling as best you can. Take the lattice pie topping and place onto your filled pie dish. Trim off the edges, and fold the base pie pastry edge, over the trimmed edge of the latticed pastry to give a neat finish. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg.

Put the pie into the oven and place another sheet under the pie in case any of the juices spill over. Bake until the pie is a beautifully golden colour, the juices are bubbling and the cherries have softened, about 30-40 minutes. Start checking at 25 minutes. Leave to cool though this pie is best eaten with some warmth still hugging it. It does reheat perfectly too. Dust with icing sugar before serving with ice cream (chocolate ice cream could work here, if you are a Black Forest Gateau lover), or cold, cold cream.

Final touches : An update

In post consultation with Mhairi, she casually mentioned two optional extras. I could kick myself for not thinking of it, though it’s perhaps more suited to autumnal tastes.

When you’ve done the lattice work, brush the pastry lightly with some egg wash and sprinkle over some demerera sugar, mixed with cinnamon over the lattice before you place it on the pie. This will give a fabulous crunchy texture to the pie.

Alternatively, dust the cooled, baked pie with a mix of icing (confectioner’s/powdered) sugar and cinnamon.

Either way, will be heavenly!

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72 thoughts on “Cherry Pie

  1. Deepa

    Oh Carrie you’ve done it again, had me wiping drool off my screen with your words and pictures. Also you’ve made me miss my stint in Glasgow a little. I hope you are pleased with yourself!
    Seriously, gorgeous post.

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thanks Deepa! I didn’t realise you were in Glasgow! I’ve never been and I regret not taking the time to do so when I lived in Scotland. As for the photos – glad you like them!

  2. Jean

    Glorious photos, especially the halved cherries on their wooden board. Love the image of Brad gazing approvingly into the depths of the pie!
    Also grinning at the twice-italicised stipulation ” *for an hour* ” – you talkin’ to me?! How did you know I’d give it a meagre twelve minutes’ chilling otherwise?

  3. Hannah

    Lovely blog post and delicious looking pie Carrie! Mhairi, I’ll bet you breathed a sigh of relief, or perhaps you knew all along that Carrie would be wowed by it?

    Funnily enough when a made Cherry Pie last month for the first time ever it called for a drop of almond extract and that’s one of the things I loved about it.

  4. Katy

    Ooooooh, love the photos – a different departure from your usual style. Funnily enough I am sat here eating a bowl of cherries. They are very good and its quite a relief to be eating some fruit that tastes fresh for once. You have inspired me to find time to practice my pastry making skills.

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thanks Katy. Yes I thought of changing things up a bit 😀 A bit too autumn a feel for the height of summer, but bah! Why not! The lebanese cherries are really good at the moment and half the price of the imported ones….get some pastry practice in!

  5. bakesinslippers

    That is the prettiest set of cherry pictures I have ever seen! And doing the lattice before, excellent idea!

  6. Ali

    We’re smack bang in the middle of cherry country as I read this. Will have some for you fresh from the farm.

  7. fercalcaterra

    Carrie!..Este post me dio un hambre! 😀
    I wrote in Spanish, for you to know that your blog I’m reading in Paraguay! haha
    The photos are perfect. What camera do you use? and what lens?

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Gracias! Wow, all the way from Paraguay! Fantastic 😀
      I use a Cannon 1100D with it’s kit lens. It’s a good entry level DSLR, love the thing, but am feeling the itch to upgrade!

      1. fercalcaterra

        That’s a good camera! I have a Nikon haha. I recommend you a 35mm lens or a 50mm. They are real good for food, this lens have a spectacular blur.
        I will cook my cherry pie and send you the pictures! 😉

        1. The Patterned Plate

          Yes I have had my eye on those two lenses for a while. Will be a fair bit longer before I can invest in them. Still have a lot to learn with the one I have. And I would love to see the pictures!

  8. Hazzer New Zealand

    I am with you on glace cherries, blergh. I also shy away from cooked cherries as they are so delicious as they are but you have convinced me to give this a try come cherry season. I will mortgage the cat and see if I can get enough for a kg.
    Beautiful photos as usual.

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Hahah! Oh they are expensive, and I so get that cooking them feels like a sheer waste of good money and fruit! If it makes you feel better, I only use half a kilo for the pie in the picture. So it is flexible 😀

  9. Rushi!

    Carrie I really wish they’d invent one of those Wonka tvs, that way I could reach over and taste your gorgeous creations… Cherry pie, mmmmm…I bought a huge bag of cherries this morning so I just might whip this one up later today. Really happy that I don’t have to use a fancy cherry stoner to get the job that.

    BTW I love that pie dish. DId you pick it up in the UK? I’ve been wanting one for yonks, hopefully hubby will get me one for my birthday.

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Thanks Rushi, hope you make it. Stoning the cherries isn’t hard! But a stoner takes the boredom out of it. The pie dish is a Le Creuset one I got at TK Maxx but they aren’t expensive to begin with. It works exceptionally well for fruit pies, when placed over a preheated baking sheet.

      1. Rushi!

        I’m in love with this pie. just couldn’t stop at one slice. I used lemon instead of orange simply because that’s what I had at hand and was too lazy to head back to the store. I made it again this morning as mini pies to take to a friend’s. I love the pastry, it’s quite forgiving isn’t it? Also I used honey instead of sugar the second time around and was very pleased with the results, I needed to make sure it tasted yummy 🙂

  10. Anita Menon

    A deliciously written post. Such drama your words add to the spectacular photos. I feel like making this pie today in my new mini pie dishes cause I have been dying to use them. I have waited for this long for a worthy recipe. This seems like just the one. Thanks for sharing.

  11. bettybobkin

    One of the *best* things to do with cherries (followed immediately by eating them, naturally) was to hang “doubles” (on paired stalks) over your ears as earrings !

  12. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato)

    Wow, I love the photos. The ingredients all look so gorgeous against that black backdrop. I also used to hate cooked cherries (and I still hate absolutely anything resembling artificial cherry flavoring, like any red candies or cough syrups—I must have been grouping them all together with any & all baked cherries in my mind), but now what I wouldn’t give for a slice or two of your cherry pie! Yum. (Of course the best way to eat cherries is still right out of the bag—or off the tree; agreed.)

  13. Food Tripping

    I really admire people who bake and i sooo love cherry pies. The best alternative to all time favorite chocolate cakes and all other sweets. I so love this blog 🙂 Your photos are just as yummy as the pie

  14. NickkiT

    Oh Carrie, this has me nearly weeping! I adore cherry pie, it is one of my most favourite things in the world but hubby has a shuddering aversion to cherries..he won’t even be in the same room as me if I’m eating them. Seriously. I long to make a cherry pie but I have no-one to share it with..I might just have to adapt this recipe and make myself an individual one! 😛

  15. Thanh @ eat, little bird

    What stunning photos, Carrie! I love, love cherry pie. Like you, I never quite understood why anyone would want to cook cherries as they are so delicious in their natural state. But the other week, I bought two large punnets of cherries and was disappointed to find that they were past their peak. So one punnet was turned into a compote for the little one, and the other into a cherry pie 🙂 I would love to give this lattice topping a try.

  16. Meenakshi

    This looks-seriously- take your breath away beautiful. I can almost taste the tart sweetness from your description! I love cherries but as a kid, all you could find in Kerala were those syrupy, Benadryl aftertaste glace cherries. I tried Kashmiri cherries this year, but they didn’t quite cut it. Bing is best! But ridiculously expensive here. I guess I need to bake with cherries in Doha!

    1. The Patterned Plate

      Hhaja Benadryl cherries… That’s the most perfect description yet! Cherries are extortionate in doha too. My luck seemed to have run out after the batch for this pie. Such is life, bah!

  17. dman1234blog

    There are several ways to make cherry pie this way is very elegant and has a sweeter and more richer taste and for such a common pie this recipe makes it seem like a delacacy.

  18. Pingback: Things I like Monday – All things Thanksgiving | Crazy Jamie

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