This delicious homemade cherry pie recipe combines sour cherries, sweet cherries & dried cherries in a flaky, sugary crust with a lattice top.
True confessions: Up until a few years ago, most of the cherry pies I'd baked in my life were made with canned cherry pie filling. I could lie and say it was the thought of pitting all those cherries that kept me reaching for the can opener instead of the cherry pitter. But, the truth is...
I really kinda like canned cherry pie filling.
I'm not talking about those beautiful jars of cherry pie filling you find at farmer's markets, that are made by real people (in my imagination, this is always someone who looks like my grandmother), with pronounceable ingredients and gorgeously ripe, whole fruit. Unfortunately, that's not the kind of cherry pie filling I'm talking about.
The kind I'm taking about is those cheap cans of cherry pie filling in the baking isle of supermarkets everywhere. You know... the kind where corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors are sometimes listed before actual cherries.
Sigh. I know I shouldn't... and yet, store bought canned cherry pie filling is a little like a hostess chocolate cupcake for me - way too sweet and totally artificial tasting, and yet, somehow, soooooo freaking delicious.
When I was a child, my grandparents lived in a house situated in the middle of an old sour cherry orchard. Most of the cherry trees were long gone, but on the side of the house, a few rows remained. Every year, when the cherry tree branches were heavy with ripe cherries, we would visit my grandparents and pick buckets of cherries.
After hauling them home, my mom would go to work pitting pound after pound of cherries, sealing them in bags for the freezer so that we could have homemade cherry pie year round.
Then my grandparents moved cutting off our supply of free sour cherries, and my mom started making her cherry pies with canned pie filling. So, my love of canned cherry pie filling is her fault really. You see that, don't you?
There's nothing better than a homemade cherry pie
Having confessed my ridiculous love of canned cherry pie filling, I also want to make it perfectly clear that it doesn't hold a candle to THIS homemade, 100% from scratch cherry pie. This pie is much, much better and 100% worth the extra effort. It's like comparing a fast food hamburger to a really good steak. The hamburger might be your guilty pleasure, but there's no contest about which is better.
Here's what I like about this Cherry Pie Recipe: it contains frozen sour cherries, fresh sweet cherries, AND dried cherries. The combination of all three kinds of cherries gives the pie is a contrast of flavors and textures that's absolutely delicious. But as always, you have options...
- Use only sour or only sweet cherries
- Omit the dried cherries altogether
- Use fresh OR frozen cherries.
- Use a combination of fresh and frozen cherries.
As long as the quantity of fruit is the same the combination and type of cherries is entirely up to you.
The Secret to Making Really Good Cherry Pie Filling
This recipe calls for cooking the filling before pouring it into the pie shell, which gives you the opportunity to taste the filling before baking the pie and adjust as you like.
For example, if you choose to use all sour cherries, you might want to add a bit more sugar. Taste and adjust. Likewise, if you choose to use all sweet cherries, you might want to start out with ¼ cup less sugar. Again, cook the filling as directed, taste, and add more if you like.
The other major advantage to cooking the filling before pouring it into the pie shell is the ability to adjust the consistency before the pie is baked. If your cherries happen to be extra juicy, you might need to add a bit more tapioca and corn starch. If you want a runnier filling, use a bit less.
I like the fruit in my pie to mostly stay in the shell after slicing. If you prefer a more liquid consistency to your cherry pie filling, just reduce the amount of tapioca and corn starch by about ⅓.
If, after cooking the filling, you're not sure if it's the consistency you like, just remove a small amount to a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool. Once cool, check to see if the filling is of the consistency and sweetness you prefer. The bottom line: err on the side of too little sugar and too little thickener. You can always add more of both.
Cook the filling, taste and adjust.
A few words about cherries
Pitting cherries is kind of a pain in the you-know-what. I was lucky enough to find pre-pitted frozen sour cherries at my local farmer's market. But, I still had to pit the sweet cherries. The easiest way to do this is with a cherry pitter.
My favorite cherry pitter is the OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter. It has a splatter shield that helps contain cherry juice splatters. “Helps” is the key word in that last sentence. There will still be some splattering and cherry juice has a remarkable ability to stain anything it touches. My suggestion is to pit the cherries over a deep bowl so that the sides of the bowl catch most of the errant splatters.
You also might look at the cost of dried cherries and reconsider including them at all. You can actually leave them out all together and your cherry pie will still be delicious. They are also often more affordable on Amazon.
But, I urge you to make this pie once with the dried cherries before deciding if the extra cost is worth it. The dried cherries add an unexpected chewiness to the filling that I love. I think you will too.
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- 1 recipe Fool Proof Pie Crust, chilled for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator
- 2 ½ cups (350g) pitted sour cherries
- 2 cups (280g) pitted sweet cherries, fresh, canned, or frozen and thawed
- 1 cup (138g) dried sour cherries
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoon quick cooking tapioca
- 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (14g) salted butter
- 2 tablespoon milk
- 2 tablespoon (42g) granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- Roll out and partially pre-bake the bottom pie crust according to these instructions. Set aside to cool while you make the cherry pie filling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degree C).
- In a medium size, heavy bottom saucepan, add the sweet, sour and dried cherries, sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and nutmeg. Stir gently with a wooden spoon to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and boiling.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Pour the filling into the partially-baked bottom pie shell. Dot the surface of the cherry pie filling with small pea-size pieces of the butter.
- Remove the remaining pie dough from the refrigerator and, on a well floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into a large circle, about 18 inches. With a pizza wheel, fluted pizza wheel or paring knife, cut the disk into 12 ½-inch wide strips.
- Starting in the center of the pie, lay half the strips across the top of the filling in one direction, than lay the other half of the strips across the pie, perpendicular to the first. Trim the edges of the strips so that they are even with the edge of the bottom crust.
- Roll a section of the remaining pie dough into a thin, ½-inch thick rope, about 32 inches long. Lie the rope around the edge of the pie, covering the edges of the lattice strips completely. Press the rope gently onto the edge of the pie. With one hand on the inside of the edge and one hand on the outside, use the index finger of your inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your other hand to form a U or a V shape. Continue this crimping motion around the entire edge.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the crust with milk and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet (to catch any drips) and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Rotate the pie in the oven and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing. The pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 196mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 3g