Welcome back to the Monthly Baking Challenge!
This month is all about the summertime essential. And no, I’m not talking about sunscreen. Though sun safety is equally as important as dessert, right?
Anyway. We’re all making a big ol’ cherry pie this month.
- Zero canned filling.
- Zero store-bought pie crust.
All from scratch because YOU CAN DO THIS.
I love baking pie. You already know this. But this wasn’t always the case. Up until 4 years ago, baking pie from scratch was foreign to me. Something for the bakeries, certainly not me. Pie crust? Forget about it. Homemade filling? Nope. It’s all too complicated and scary.
But guess what? Baking pie is not too complicated and it’s certainly nothing to fear. In fact, after having lots of practice– I now think of baking pie as my own little cheap therapy sesh. Something about mixing that pie dough by hand, rolling it all out, making cute pie crust designs, and smelling that glorious fresh-baked pie in the oven is therapeutic for me. It’s my me time; something I enjoy doing just because. No other baked good gives me the content satisfaction that pie does. PLUS it tastes pretty damn good no matter which flavor’s on the menu.
And that’s why I wanted to share this cherry pie recipe as July’s baking challenge. Out of all pie flavors and varieties, I feel like cherry pie is where most depend on canned filling. Which is certainly delicious and convenient! But that’s the challenge– making it with fresh cherries.
See how approachable it is in this quick video we shot last month!
Not so bad, right? Plus I’ll be making it from start to finish (pie crust, filling, shaping the crust, decorating, baking, etc) today on my Facebook page at 1pm. (update: here is the Facebook cherry pie video tutorial!)
Which Cherries to Use
The cherry filling can be made with your favorite cherry variety. I chose a mix of rainier cherries and dark sweet cherries. You can use all rainier or all dark sweet– or if you opt for sour cherries, add a little extra sugar. See my recipe note below.
Pitting Cherries is Definitely the Pits
You’ll need to pit your cherries and if you feel like spending 3 hours doing this without a pitter, go right ahead. But let me tell you– you will save so much time (and headache!!!) using a cherry pitter. And guess what? I’m giving away a cherry pitter, along with 5 other pie tools, right now! Hop on over here to enter the cherry pie tools giveaway.
Not much goes into the filling besides sweet cherries. Some sugar and cornstarch to sweeten and thicken, respectively. Since we use enough cornstarch for stability, this homemade cherry pie is the perfect amount of juicy. It’s solid enough that you’ll be able to cut some gorgeous slices, but still tender and oh-so-juicy. Also inside? A squeeze of lemon juice, a bit of vanilla, and my favorite addition of all: almond extract. Cherry and almond extract are a power flavor duo!! A pairing you most certainly need to try in this homemade cherry pie.
You’ll use my standard pie crust recipe. As the base of pie, pie crust is in every single bite. So it’s pretty important to use a pie crust recipe that not only WORKS, but tastes pretty epic as well.
My recipe makes 2 pie crusts: one for the bottom and one for the top. I wrote an entire tutorial on this buttery flaky pie crust a couple years ago. Warning: that’s a very long post! But it discusses common questions, issues, and solutions for making pie crust from scratch. A must read if pie crust intimidates you!
I made a simple lattice design that you can see in these pictures and in the short video above. Suuuuper simple. Decorate the pie however you’d like.
Don’t Forget the Extras!
Butter: Dot the pie filling with little cubes of butter before baking. Why? Um, because butter is delicious. No but seriously, a little butter enriches the flavor of the pie filling. And it also helps prevent the formation of lots of bubbles on the surface of the filling.
Egg wash: The egg wash is brushed on top of the pie crust. Do you know the point of an egg wash? It’s to help develop a gold brown crust. Without it, the pie crust will brown but will look quite dull and lackluster. An egg wash, which is a mix of milk and egg, creates that golden sheen and even gives the crust a little extra crisp flavor.
Coarse sugar: Because doesn’t everything deserve a little sparkle?! You can totally skip the coarse sugar but I’m partial to sparkly pies. 🙂
Marbles and speckles of butter in the homemade pie dough = layers and layers and layers of flakiness!! I promise you don’t get this level of flakiness with store-bought.
Bake the pie until golden brown. I prefer to use a glass pie dish (which is also included in the giveaway happening right now!) so I can see when the sides/bottom of the pie crust are browning. Whichever pie dish you use, the pie will take about an hour. The downside? Waiting for the darn thing to completely cool.
But it’s all sooooo worth it. You’ll see!
If you’re not into today’s recipe, here is the alternate July Baking Challenge:
After you made the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page. And tune in today, July 1st, to my Facebook LIVE (on my FB page) at 1pm ET where I’ll walk you through the whole recipe start to finish! See you soon.
Homemade Cherry Pie
- Homemade Pie Crust (my recipe makes 2 crusts; 1 for bottom 1 for top)
- 4 and 1/2 cups halved pitted fresh cherries*
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (it's delicious!)
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon (15ml) milk
- optional: coarse sugar for sprinkling on crust
- My #1 tip? Keep the dough, filling, and prepared (unbaked) pie as cold as you can at all times. Refrigerate (or freeze) the prepared pie before baking for up to 1 hour. Refrigerate the filling before you need it. Keep everything cold cold cold-- always.
- The crust: Prepare my pie crust recipe through step 5.
- Make the filling: In a large bowl, stir the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract together until thoroughly combined. Set filling aside in the refrigerator 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 any 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 of dough-- I cut four strips 2 inches wide and two strips 1 inch wide. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. (See video above!) Press the edges of the strips into the bottom pie crust edges to seal. Use a small paring knife to trim off excess dough. Flute or crimp the edges with a fork, if desired.
- Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top with 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: A couple ways to make ahead of time! Make 1 day in advance-- after it cools, cover tightly and keep at room temperature. 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 also freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Prepared fillings can also be frozen up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
*About 1.5 lbs of cherries. You can use any variety-- I use a combination of dark sweet and rainier. If using sour cherries, increase sugar to 3/4 or 1 cup depending how sweet you like it. I do not suggest using frozen cherries. The filling will turn out quite liquid-y and soupy.
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