Best of Show Cherry Pie
It’s cherry pie time! I love this season of year. The days are long and warm. In fact, Western Washington is in the middle of a heat wave right now! This weekend Seattle was in the 90’s and it was pushing 80 in Port Angeles. I’m grateful for the ocean breeze that keeps Pie Cottage relatively cool even on the warmest of days. When it’s warm like it is now, and maybe where you are too,I try to get my baking done early in the morning before it gets too hot. Doesn’t it seem so ironic that high summer fruit season is when the weather is more challenging for making doughs and rolling them out? I try to work as quickly as I can with my pastry so the fat in it won’t get the idea that it’s ok to melt. Keep everything chilled—especially yourself. Always a good reminder. Yes?
Cherry Pie is one of the two pies that folks say that they like the best. It comes as no surprise to me that the other is Apple. I love to ask this question in informal polls across the country. In case you are wondering, my favorite pie is peach. Be sure to put enough thickener into the filling so that you won’t have gloppy red soup. I like to use quick cooking tapioca. Here’s the one that I made today for my friends Jean and Roy.
I used some Montmorency cherries. You may be lucky enough to have a tree or a friend with a tree. Some count the days to when these cherries make their brief appearance at the Farmers Markets. Another variety that I love to use is Morello. Lovely, dark, and rich in flavor.
Once you have them, they will keep for a few days refrigerated. But, I try to head home and dive right into pitting them and making my pies. After pitting them, if you are not going to use them right way, you can can them, or you might want to freeze them in a single layer on a cookie tin or sheet pan, and then pop them into dated plastic bags. They’ll last at least six months if you can wait that long. When I make my filling, I treat the frozen cherries exactly the same as I do fresh, and by that I mean that there’s no need to defrost them.
Here’s my Best of Show Cherry Pie that brought me my first Blue and Best of Show ribbons.
Easy Cherry Pie
- 1 recipe for double crust pie dough
- 6 cups sour cherries fresh and pitted, canned and drained, or frozen (you won’t need to defrost them)
- 1 cup sugar + a few teaspoons more for sprinkling the top
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- A very small grating of whole nutmeg
- 2-3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca if you are brave, just use a good size handful
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons orange liqueur optional
- 1 tablespoon butter for dotting the top of the filling if you forget this, it's fine...really!
Egg White Wash
- 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water for an egg white wash
- Make dough, divide into two disks, wrap in plastic and chill.
- Put cherries, sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, quick cooking tapioca, salt into a bowl and gently mix together until well coated.
- Roll out the bottom dough and place in your pie pan.
- Pour filling into crust. (Note: Cherries are a very juicy fruit so fill your pie pan to within 1/2 inch of the rim so they won’t boil over when baking.)
- Dot with butter and set aside.
- Roll out remaining dough and lay over the fruit, or cut strips and make a lattice top.
- Trim excess dough from edges and crimp.
- Brush crust with some egg white wash and sprinkle evenly and lightly with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar.
- Place pie in refrigerator to chill while oven is preheating to 425° F.
- Bake at 425° F on the middle rack of the oven until crust is just golden, about 20 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 375° F; bake until golden brown and there is some steady bubbling in the filling, about 30-35 minutes more.
- Let cool before serving.
For Valentine’s Day, top it with lots of hearts.