When I spied the first Bing cherries of the season at the market the other day, I delightedly stashed a few pounds in my cart. Yes, I know that it’s still a little early for them to be at their peak, but after being cherry deprived for nearly a year, I couldn’t resist stocking up. When I plucked a few out of the bag to snack on later that day, I sadly realized that, as pretty as they were, they were not the sweet, juicy, intensely flavored Bings I’d been pining for. Bummer! Still, at $7.99 a pound, I wasn’t about to waste them. Roasting or baking mediocre fruits always seems to improve their flavor, so I decided to bake my cherries up in a pie.
I’d always heard that Bing cherries weren’t the best kind to use in pies – something about them being too sweet. Well, that wasn’t going to be a problem here. My cherries were definitely on the right side of tart. Besides, if I waited for fresh sour cherries to make an appearance in these parts, I’d be baking pie in the old folks home. I’ve never, ever seen them here and probably never will. So I adapt, and turn my lemons into lemonade – or in this case – my under ripe Bing cherries into a scrumptious cherry pie.
In retrospect, I should have known just by looking at those cherries. Most of them were still too red.
I used my handy, dandy cherry pitter to relieve my cherries of their pits. If you don’t have one of these nifty little gadgets, you should get one – especially if you love cherries as much as I do. The cherries take a fraction of the time to pit, and they look a lot prettier too.
By the way, that is Mr. SGCC’s hand in the picture. I do not – I repeat – DO NOT have hairy knuckles!
To make the pie filling, the cherries are mixed with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and just a dash of almond extract. For some reason almond really enhances the flavor of cherries. I also added some cherry preserves to the filling. I did this partly to add more “cherryness” to it, but also to add a little more thickness. It doesn’t matter how much cornstarch or flour I add to fruit pie fillings, they always give off too much liquid. It’s maddening! I’d like to say this trick worked like a charm, but it didn’t. The pie was still a little too watery for my taste, but it not as much as usual. And, it did taste amazingly good.
To make the crust, I used my current favorite all butter pie crust recipe. No shortening-based pie crusts for me, thankyouverymuch! I’m on team butter all the way.
Cherry pies traditionally have a lattice crust on top. I eschew lattice crusts, mostly because I don’t have one of those crinkly-edged cutter thingies. And also, because I can never get them right. No matter how careful I am, the strips always stretch and tear when I try to weave them together. Instead, I decided to make a nice, summery flower crust. I just used a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out a bunch of dough flowers, and placed them around the top of the pie. I’m a regular prodigy when it comes to using cookie cutters. Plus, it’s a whole lot easier and I think it looks even prettier.
See how nice those flowers look? I’m calling them cherry blossoms.
Don’t forget to brush a little egg wash on top.
And, sprinkle on some turbinado or coarse sugar to give the crust some crunch.
Then bake the pie, and wait for the most heavenly smells to waft through your house. You should probably close the windows, though, or else the whole neighborhood will be knocking on your door.
Ah! Ba da Bing Cherry Pie. Fuhgeddaboudit!
- 1 batch chilled piecrust dough for a double-crust pie (I like this one.)
- 4 cups pitted fresh Bing cherries (about 2 1/2 pounds unpitted)
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup cherry preserves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Toss the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, preserves, lemon juice and almond extract together in a large bowl and set aside
- For the bottom crust, roll out 1 disk of pie dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round. Roll the dough from the center out, turning the dough in one quarter turns as you roll. Fit the round into a 9-inch ceramic, glass or metal pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill while rolling out dough for the top crust.
- For the top crust, roll out remaining piece of dough on the lightly floured surface with the rolling pin into an 11-inch round. With a 2-3-inch cookie cutter or biscuit cutter of your choice, cut out about 12 pieces of dough.
- Spoon the cherry filling into the pie shell, and dot the filling with the bits of cold butter. Then, lay the dough cut-outs on top in a decorative pattern, overlapping them slightly, and leaving a few open spaces for the steam to escape. Roll the edges of the bottom crust in towards the center of the pie and crimp with a fork or pinch with your fingers.
- Lightly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F., and continue to bake for another 35-40 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Cool pie on a rack at least 2 hours, before serving.
Makes one 9-inch pie.