An easy cherry pie recipe?
This recipe for a super easy cherry pie comes to us from Chrysta Wilson, author of Kiss My Bundt: recipes from the award-winning bakery. But don’t be fooled by her expertise in bundt. Chrysta is also an expert on creating a flaky, butter crust and a perfectly balanced pie filling. In fact, she’s pretty much our go-to expert for any sort of classic, American dessert!
Although a study showed that the scent of fresh cherries could be a mood killer to women, the fruit has an aphrodisiac reputation. And baked into a pie, the aroma of fresh cherries mingles with buttery pastry and sugar. The result is something totally seductive.
The history of cherry pie
We think of cherry pie as an American tradition, it’s as much a part of our summers as is baseball. But according to the American Pie Council, cherry pie is not American at all. At least, its origin isn’t American.
The concept of pie dates back to the ancient Egyptians. And althoug we think of pie as something more like this easy cherry pie recipe, the first pie recipe was published in ancient Rome and it included a filling of goat cheese and honey. (Perhaps it was intended as an aphrodisiac?)
Interestingly, there is little evidence of fruit pies until the 1500’s. However it is believed that cherry pie is actually British. The first cherry pie is linked with Queen Elizabeth I. It is believed to have traveled to American with the earliest settlers. But it didn’t evolve into the fruit-filled, flakey-crusted masterpiece we now love until recent times.
A note on making the best cherry pie
Chrysta adds a hint of almond extract to her pie. We think this, along with the flakey crust, is what distinguishes her pie. However, the addition is entirely optional. If you’re not sure, we recommend trying it at least once.
Cookbook author Chrysta Wilson shares the secret to her cherry pie recipe, including her flakey, all-butter crust.
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 stick + 2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup ice cold water* you may need extra—see recipe
- 4 lbs cups pitted fresh cherries about 2 1/2un-pitted
- 1/3 cup of chopped dried tart cherries dried cranberries can be substituted
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt about 1/8 tsp
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 tsp almond extract* optional
- 1 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into small bits
- 1/3 cup almond meal ground almonds
- Cool your Fats: Cut your butter into small cubes. Place on a plate and put in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Sift the Dry: Sift together the flour, salt and sugar.
- Add butter to flour: Add the cold butter cubes into the flour and work it into the flour mixture with your pastry blender. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t get too soft. (If you think the butter is melting, pop bowl back into the freezer for a few minutes.) You can also use a food processor, pulsing about 8 times. Blend the butter into the flour until the butter looks like crushed crackers with small pea-sized bits of butter in there.
- Add Water: At this stage, you want to add your water until the dough sticks together to form a ball. Start with 4 tbsp of water to start, then add water in 1tbsp increments. (You probably won’t use more than ½ Cup of water.)
- Tip: Too much water will make the dough very tough. So, you want to add just enough water where the dough holds together into a ball. Another tip: you could use ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of vodka instead of the ½ cup of water. ½ of the vodka will evaporate in the oven, and this technique helps ensure you don’t “over water” your dough.
- Form Dough Ball: Squeeze dough together in the bowl, then plop the dough onto a floured work surface. Give it a quick roll or two, just to make sure the dough is a well pressed together.
- Divide Dough, chill: divide the dough into two balls (I use a scale to make sure they are the same size by weight). Press each ball into a flattened disc, which will make rolling easier. Then wrap in plastic-wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (up to 2 days) to let the glutens rest and the butter get cold again.
- Roll Out Dough, Form Crust: Remove dough from the fridge, and unwrap onto a floured surface. (I like to take a piece of parchment paper and trace pie-pan onto the parchment paper. This gives me a guide for how wide to roll out my dough.)
- Making sure to flour the parchment paper (use the side without the ink on it, or it will get onto your dough) and the top of the dough disc, roll out to about an 11-inch circle.
- Place rolled out crust into your pie pan, and put back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine fresh cherries, dried cherries (or dried cranberries), cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and almond extract). Set aside.
- Remove the chilled bottom pie crust (in the pie pan) from the fridge.
- Sprinkle almond meal evenly into the bottom of the pie crust.
- Pour the cherry mixture into the bottom of the pie crust.
- Cut the butter into small pieces, and sprinkle on top of the cherry filling.
- Roll out the 2nd crust to be about 1 inch larger than the bottom.
- Put on Top Crust: Roll out your second dough disc just like you did before. Place on top of the filling. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust, pinching to seal the two crusts together. Crimp the border to also help seal and for decoration.
- Cut ventilation holes in the top of the pie crust so steam can release. I like to cut shapes into the pie crust to serve the function of a “vent”, such as a heart of a star.
- Cover pie with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (which helps the crust and filling cool down and set up).
- Remove pie from fridge. Beat 1 egg and 1 tbsp of water together. Brush this egg wash mixture on top of the pie. Optional: sprinkle with granulated sugar.
- Place pie in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.
- Reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake pie for an additional 30-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the filling appears thickened.
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