Perfect Cherry Pie


This is Twin Peaks on a plate. Crisp golden pastry and sour-sweet crimson cherries. Enjoy with a ‘damn fine’ cup of black coffee.

Despite using primarily sweet cherries, what really makes this pie exciting is the comparatively small quantity of sour (or Morello) cherries mixed into the filling. You’re more likely to find Morello cherries in a jar or dried than fresh so use whichever type you can get your hands on.

This is far from the frugal sort cobbled together from a few windfall apples and a sheet of ready-rolled pastry. To make it cheaper you can use frozen fruit, decrease the amount of sour cherries, or even swap in a couple of apples to bulk out the filling.

Makes 1 large pie, serving 8 generously

For the pastry:
400g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, firm but not fridge-cold, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons cold water
1 large egg beaten with a tablespoon of milk, to glaze

For the filling:
500–600g cherries, frozen or fresh, stoned
Juice of 1½ lemons
3 tablespoons cornflour
¼ teaspoon almond extract
75g caster or granulated sugar
200g sour/Morello cherries, either dried or from a jar

Large pie dish, 25–28cm in diameter at its rim

1 Measure the flour into a large bowl, then use your fingertips to rub the cubes of butter into it until completely combined. The mixture should resemble fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt and sugar, then drizzle in the water. Use a butter knife to ‘cut’ through the mixture repeatedly (as opposed to stirring) to break up any wet lumps of flour and evenly distribute the moisture. It should come together into small clumps before long. If it doesn’t, add a splash more water. Quickly but firmly press the mixture together with your hands, form into a flattish disc and wrap it tightly in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2 Put the sweet cherries in a medium-sized pan over a low heat, and warm gently until they’re beginning to release their juices. If using frozen cherries, there’s no need to defrost first: use them straight from the freezer. Continue to heat the fruit for a couple more minutes, stirring all the while.

3 Add the lemon juice and cornflour to the now-juicy cherries. Cook for a few minutes until the juices begin to thicken with the cornflour. As soon as the juice has the consistency of double cream, take the pan off the heat. Stir in the almond extract, sugar and sour cherries then set aside to cool.

4 Divide the chilled pastry into two pieces, one of 400g and the other around 300g. Return the smaller piece to the fridge, again wrapped in cling film. Roll the larger piece into a circle big enough to line the base and sides of the pie dish (doing this on a lightly floured sheet of baking parchment will make it easier to transfer to the dish), then line the pie dish with the pastry and chill it for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.

5 Once the pastry case is chilled and the filling mixture has cooled, spoon the filling into the case. Now roll the smaller pastry piece to a circle big enough to form the lid of the pie. Lay the lid over the top of the filling and, brushing the edges with a little milk, press into the rim of the pastry sides to seal. You could crimp it with a fork, but it’s not essential.

6 Brush the lid of the pastry with the egg and milk glaze, make a couple of incisions to allow steam to escape and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 25 minutes.

 ©Nato Welton, 2014

©Nato Welton, 2014

Crumb: The Baking Book
By Ruby Tandoh