Here’s my big problem with cherries – I love them so, so much in their pure form that I almost never bake or do anything with them because before I do, I end up eating them all. I wait all year long for cherry season and when it is finally here, I eat them like nobody’s business. Literally every day. When I saw the recipe for this sweet cherry pie though, I needed to try it right away. My sweet Ben went out and bought a double allotment of cherries the very next day so I had some to bake with and still plenty to eat.
This recipe does have a few odd techniques, like adding a plum to the mix and using ground up tapioca as a thickener. I sometimes wonder if Cook’s Illustrated makes things more complicated than they need to be, but then the recipes always turn out perfectly so I guess they are right. Same situation here – this was without a doubt the best cherry pie I have ever made (or tasted). They do suggest grinding the tapioca in a coffee grinder or food processor, but I don’t have a coffee grinder and my food processor was temporarily out of commission at the time. Instead, I put it in a plastic bag and tried to crush it with a rolling pin, but I don’t think it made any difference. It didn’t even matter in the end because I couldn’t tell at all. Next time I’m not sure I’ll bother with that step, but I do think the addition of the plum was important in adding a tart counterbalance to the sweet cherries. Served with some homemade vanilla ice cream, this is a perfect summer dessert.
Sweet Cherry Pie
Double crust pie dough (or your preferred pie crust)
2 red plums, halved and pitted
6 cups pitted, halved sweet cherries (or 6 cups pitted frozen cherries), divided
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. instant tapioca, ground
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water
To make the filling, process the plums and 1 cup of the cherries in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain the the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Add the remaining cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, tapioca and cinnamon to the bowl. Mix well to combine; let stand for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F and place a baking sheet on an oven rack. Line a 9-inch pie plate with a round of pie dough. Transfer the cherry mixture to the dough-lined pie plate. Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the fruit. Top with the second round of pie dough. Pinch the edges of the dough together in a fluted pattern. Brush the top evenly with the egg wash. Using a sharp paring knife, cut 8 evenly spaced slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Place the pie in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350˚ F and continue baking about 30-40 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature so the filling has time to set up and thicken, 2-3 hours. Slice and serve.
Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, July & August 2010