Sweet Cherry Pie with Toasted Almonds
Here’s how to make a classic fresh cherry pie completely from scratch. Add a little sprinkle of toasted almonds to amp up the flavor!
Happy almost 4th of July!! I’m taking this seriously patriotic time of year as an excuse to get down to business in the kitchen and bake up some all American classics.
When summer hits, I rush to my rolling pin in delight. “It’s time for fruit pie! It’s time for fruit pie!” I don’t say to myself. But you know. I’m really excited. One of the first pies I make of the season is apple pie. This you already know. Runner up is cherry. Cherry pie always makes an appearance on my table in July. There’s no denying the indulgence of this brightly-hued delicacy. In fact, it’s one of summer’s finest rewards.
Cherries are in their peak season right now and rather than eating them by the fistful as per the usual, try today’s recipe.
Now that you know everything about making homemade buttery flaky pie crust, let me teach you how to make a sweet cherry filling that trumps canned cherry pie
Thanks to the short ingredient list, this homemade cherry pie filling is a cinch to prepare.
Start with cherries. You can use sweet or sour cherries, just adjust the sugar in the filling as needed. I always use sweet cherries and around 2/3 cup of sugar. This makes the filling just sweet enough; a squeeze of fresh lemon juice balances things out and adds flavorful depth.
As Cooking Illustrated Baking Book (bible) suggests, I cut my cherries in half when making a from-scratch cherry pie filling. Why? This encourages the cherries to soften and release their juice. Prior to slicing in half, use a cherry pitter (the one I own) to fish out all those pits. And make your husband do it. Haha? Uh, his reward can be cherry pie.
A splash of vanilla extract adds flavor to the filling while cornstarch thickens it up.
You might notice a few smashed raspberries in that bowl. Your eyes are not deceiving you. I add a small handful of a juicy fruit, like raspberries or sliced strawberries, to “fill in the gaps” between all the rounded cherry halves. It’s optional, but I find the filling is much more compact with this small addition. Try it, it totally works.
A lattice top shouldn’t intimidate you! It actually comes together rather quickly: using a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or a sharp knife, cut strips of your pie dough 1/2 – 1 inch wide. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. For this pictured pie, I used my trusty fluted pastry wheel (similar one here) to cut the pie dough strips. Pretty stuff, right?
And now the best part. Drumroll please…
Sliced almonds!! A sprinkling of Diamond of California sliced almonds on top turns the pie’s flavor profile up a notch. As the pie bakes, the almonds become toasty and even more crunchy. If you’re a texture freak like I am, you will LOVE this addition.
They’re the “cherry” on top. Get it? Get it?
“The best pie I’ve ever had” was the reply I got from my friend after dropping off a few leftover slices. No argument necessary. This is the cherry pie of your dreams.
Oh. You don’t dream about cherry pie?
Sweet Cherry Pie with Toasted Almonds
Here's how to make a classic fresh cherry pie completely from scratch. Add a little sprinkle of toasted almonds to amp up the flavor!
- Homemade Pie Crust (my recipe makes 2 crusts; 1 for bottom 1 for top)
- 4 cups halved pitted fresh cherries1
- 1/2 cup (38g) fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries2
- 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup (100-150g) granulated sugar1
- 1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (it's delicious!)
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
- 1/3 cup (28g) sliced almonds, such as Diamond of California sliced almonds
- optional: coarse sugar for garnish
- The crust: Prepare my pie crust recipe through step 5.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the cherries, raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract together until thoroughly combined. Set filling aside as the oven preheats. This gives the filling a chance to rest.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the other one in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9x2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Spoon the filling into the crust and discard some of the leftover juices in the bottom of the bowl. Dot the pieces of butter on top of the filling.
- Arrange the lattice: Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a circle that is 12 inches diameter. Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut strips 1/2 - 1 inch wide. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. Press the edges of the strips into the bottom pie crust edges to seal. Use a small paring knife to trim off excess dough. Crimp the edges with a fork, if desired. (Alternatively, you can simply cover the filling with the 12-inch pie dough circle. Cut slits in the top to form steam vents. Trim and crimp the edges.)
- Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with the egg/milk mixture. Sprinkle the top with almonds and a little coarse sugar, if using.
- Place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Keeping the pie in the oven, turn the temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes. After the first 20 minutes of bake time, I place a pie crust shield on top of the pie to prevent the edges from browning too quickly.
- Allow the pie to cool for 3 full hours at room temperature before serving. This time allows the filling to thicken up. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip/Freezing: This a great pie to make 1 day in advance since it is so juicy - the filling will have time to "set" overnight. The pie crust dough can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Baked pie freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Prepared filling can be frozen up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- Pre-pitting and slicing, this is a little under 2 lbs of fresh cherries. Measure 4 cups after slicing in half. Use sour or sweet cherries, just adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of them. I use sweet cherries in their peak season and 2/3 cup of granulated sugar. You can also use frozen cherries. Thaw completely before using and make sure you discard the juice in step 4.
- The very small amount of an additional fruit like raspberries or sliced strawberries helps to "fill in the gaps" between all the rounded cherry halves. Try it!
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