Ever since I got married, I started cooking all this American food. I mean, I grew up on Chinese food, stir-fries and rice every day, so pies ain’t exactly on my usual repertoire. Plus I’m Canadian. You know, we eat poutine and Montreal Smoked Meat and Beavertails and maple syrup and whatnot. Sometimes I worry that I’m becoming co-opted by my country’s powerful neighbor, my husband’s country, and that I am losing my national identity. Just the other day, one of my Chinese oral English students came up to me and said, “You don’t sound Canadian; your accent is so American!” Er…uh…um…I don’t sound American, Americans just sound Canadian! So there!
Few things say American like cherry pie. Well, ‘cept maybe apple pie. But cherry pie is definitely high up there on the list of American symbols. At least, so I’ve been told. I don’t really care what it’s a symbol of – as long as the filling is sweet and tart and luscious, and the crust is flaky and buttery and addictive. And oh…this pie delivers on both counts. It is cherry season, folks, and a pie is the perfect vehicle for loads of those sweet succulent berries.
I have to tell you, I don’t like using cornstarch to thicken pie filling. I had to in this case because it was the only thing I had, but if I’d had any, I would have used instant tapioca, pulverized in a food processor, and you might want to as well. Other than that, this recipe is really simple and good. The crust, especially, is incredibly buttery and flaky. So buttery that it’s difficult to work with, and the edges of my pie practically fell off rather than got trimmed off (that’s why the edges are so “rustic” and uneven). You may have to put the dough in the fridge for a few minutes while rolling it out to ensure it doesn’t get too soft. I definitely had to chill the dough before cutting the strips for the lattice so they wouldn’t fall apart as I wove them.
Enjoy cherry season, and cherry pie, friends. And not that I would know anything about holidays south of the border, but methinks this might be a good pie to bring to a certain holiday coming up on the fourth of July? Or Canada Day on July 1st. Eh?
Classic Cherry Pie
Adapted from Epicurious
The lemon juice in this recipe gives sweet cherries a nice tartness and complexity. If using tart cherries, reduce amount of lemon juice to one teaspoon.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
5 tbsp ice water (or more)
5 cups pitted cherries (2lbs unpitted)
¾ cup sugar (use 1 cup if using tart cherries), plus extra for sprinkling
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch or instant tapioca
3 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 tbsp milk
1. Prepare the crust. Whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and rub in with your fingertips until the biggest pieces are about pea-sized (or use a pastry cutter to do the same thing). Add a tablespoonful of ice water at a time, stirring the mixture with a fork. Dough should stick together if pressed. Gather the dough together to form two balls. Flatten them into discs and place in the refrigerator to chill for ½ hour.
2. Preheat oven to 425 F. For the filling, mix together the cornstarch/tapioca, sugar and salt. Stir into cherries along with lemon juice and extracts.
3. Assemble the pie. Roll out one of the dough discs into a 12-inch circle. Lay into the bottom of a pie plate and press gently into corners. Trim edges, leaving an overhang of ½ inch. Roll out the other disk into a 12-inch circle and cut into strips. Pour filling into pie shell and dot with butter. Place strips of dough over filling to form lattice, lifting up alternating strips to form a weave. Trim strips of dough to a ½ inch overhang as well. Fold up remaining dough on the edges, and crimp or flute the pie edge to seal. Brush the lattice with milk (but not the edges of the pie or they will brown too much).
4. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375 F and bake for another hour, until crust is browned and filling is bubbling and thickened. If the pie is browning too quickly, place aluminum foil loosely over pie as it bakes.
5. When pie is done, let cool completely before serving.