Oh, hello Summer
Is there anything that signals summer's arrival more than bags of ripe sweet cherries on supermarket and farmer's market shelves?
Every year, I get overly anxious and buy a bag (or six) of cherries too early in the season. I know they're not going to be good, but I just can't help myself. When it's too early in the season, they are dry and not ripe, and mostly flavorless. But, we eat them anyway. That's how desperate we are for summer fruit.
I usually manage to restrain myself for another week or so before buying another bag. Then, one day in June, I'll bring home a bag of cherries that are bursting with flavor and we know that summer has finally arrived. From that day until early fall, there are always cherries in our refrigerator. They are our favorite summer snack.
And this cherry pie with sweet cherries and a crunchy, buttery crumb topping just might be our favorite summer dessert.
What kind of cherries should you use for this pie?
Most cherry pie recipes call for sour cherries, or some combination of sweet and sour cherries. My favorite double crust cherry pie recipe - Triple Cherry Pie - uses a combination of sweet cherries, sour cherries, and dried cherries. The mix of textures and flavors from all three varieties of cherries is delicious and highly recommended.
So why does THIS pie use all sweet cherries?
I love a great sour cherry pie as much as you. But, sour cherries aren't nearly as plentiful or easy to find, and they can get pretty pricy. The same is true for dried cherries.
Sweet cherries, on the other hand, can be found in abundance in almost every supermarket and farmer's market all summer long. And they're usually more affordable. This is good news for those of us who plan to use every possible excuse to make as many cherry pies as possible this summer and every summer after that.
The two most common types of sweet cherries are Bing cherries and Rainier cherries. Bing cherries are dark red and, in my experience, more plentiful than Rainier in pretty much every produce section. Rainier cherries are two toned - red and gold. Either variety will work in this pie, but Bing cherries are usually what I prefer.
How to pit fresh, sweet cherries
The bottom line: Use a cherry pitter.
You absolutely CAN pit cherries without a cherry pitter. But, a cherry pitter will do the job in a fraction of the time and with a lot less mess.
Let me be clear: even with a cherry pitter, removing the seeds from 3 pounds of cherries will take you about 30 minutes and it will still get kind of messy. But, this is less time and mess than taking on the task without a 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.
Also, you might want to wear an apron and some disposable plastic gloves. I've made this pie three times in the past two weeks and the first time I made it I was too lazy to go find a pair of plastic gloves. For days after, my hands looked like I'd been involved in a murder. The next two times I made this pie, I found the motivation to put on a pair of gloves.
How to Make Cherry Pie in Advance
Making this sweet cherry pie in an afternoon is 100% doable. Start to finish, including allowing the pie crust dough to chill, and the hour or so it takes to bake the pie, will take about 4 ½ hours.
But, you can also make each component - the pie crust, sweet cherry pie filling, and crumb topping - separately and days in advance.
- The pie crust dough: The dough for my favorite pie crust - Foolproof pie crust - will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- The partially baked pie crust: This recipe calls for partially pre-baking the crust before filling it with the cherry pie filling. You can partially pre-bake the crust up to 2 days before filling and baking the pie. Keep the partially baked pie crust covered with plastic wrap at room temperature until you're ready to fill and bake the pie.
- The sweet cherry pie filling: The cherry filling can also be made in advance. Allow it to cool completely at room temperature then scoop it into a covered container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to bake your pie, just scoop it into the pre-baked pie crust and you're good to go.
- The crumb topping. The crumb topping for this cherry pie are partially baked before sprinkling them over the cherry filling and baking the pie. This helps keep the crumbs from sinking into the pie as it bakes and also ensures that they'll bake up nice and crunchy instead of getting soggy from the cherry juice. Pre baking the crumb topping also allows you to make it up to 3 days in advance. Store the crumbs in a zip top bag or other airtight container at room temperature.
How to keep the edges of the pie crust from burning
This pie needs to bake for a while - about an hour and 10 minutes - to ensure that the bottom crust is baked and flaky, the filling is completely set, and the crumb topping is crunchy and delicious. If the edges of the pie crust aren't covered during that long baking time, they will most certainly burn.
For years I followed the instructions found in most pie recipes to fold strips of aluminum foil around the edges of a pie to keep the crust from burning. Folding strips of foil around the edge of a pie without smashing the crust and then keeping them in place while you move the pie in and out of the oven is a pain in the you-know-what.
A MUCH simpler method is to simply fold long pieces of foil up and over the edges of the crust. This is not only an easier way to prevent the edges of the crust from burning, it will help contain any cherry pie filling drips from ending up on the bottom of your oven. A total win-win.
Here's what you do: Tear off two long pieces of aluminum foil, about 2 feet (24 inches) long. Lay them on a baking sheet so they are perpendicular to each other - in an x formation. Set the pie in the center of the "X" and then simply fold the foil up and over the edges of the crust. Easy peasy.
Homemade cherry pie FAQs:
Q: How do I know when sweet cherries are ripe?
A: For Bing Cherries, the darker red they are, the riper they are. Rainier cherries should be a combination of red and yellow. Rainier cherries that are all yellow are not yet ripe. Their color should also look robust and bright, not dull.
Q: How long will the baked pie keep? Does it need to be refrigerated?
A: The pie is best the day it's made. However, it's still pretty darn good the next day and even the day after that. By day 3, the crust and the crumb topping will be getting kind of soggy. So, in general, I'd suggest eating it within 24 -48 hours of baking. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and store it at room temperature OR in the refrigerator. I generally like to store fruit pies at room temperature, which in my house, means at about 73 degrees. If your home is particularly warm, you might want to keep this pie in the refrigerator.
Q: Can I use sour cherries instead of sweet cherries in this pie?
A: Absolutely. Sour cherries will work beautifully in this recipe. Just leave out the lemon juice and increase the amount of sugar by 2 tablespoons.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Scroll down to rate this recipe and leave a comment for me, or take a picture and tag it @ofbatteranddough on Instagram.
You'll need the dough for 1 Single Pie Crust. These are my two favorite recipes:
For the Crumb topping:
- 6 tbsp (85g/ 3oz) salted butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups (195g) cake flour (*see note for a substitution)
- ½ cup (106g) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp table salt (¾ tsp kosher salt)
For the Cherry Filling:
- 3 lbs (1.36kg) ripe, SWEET cherries (about 6 heaping cups of pitted cherries)
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup (40g) cornstarch
- ½ tsp table salt (¾ tsp kosher salt)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Partially Pre-Bake Pie Crust:
- Make sure the pie crust dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before rolling it out.
- If using Foolproof Pie Crust dough, click here and follow these instructions for rolling out the dough and PARTIALLY pre-baking a pie crust.
- If using Toasted Almond Pie Crust dough, click here and follow the instructions for rolling out the dough and PARTIALLY pre-baking the crust.
Make the Crumb Topping:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C) and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Add the cake flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to a medium size bowl and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
- Drizzle in the melted butter. Mix with your hands, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until moistened.
- Dump the mixture out onto the baking sheet, squeezing some together with your hands to create larger crumbs.
- Bake for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.
(*The crumbs can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store them in a zip top bag or other air-tight container in the refrigerator.)
Make the Cherry Pie Filling:
- Remove the stems and pits (seeds) from the cherrie. This is much easier to do with a cherry pitter.
- Add the pitted cherries to a large saucepan along with the lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Set the pan over medium low heat and stir to combine.
- Continue to cook the cherry filling, stirring frequently, until juice released from the cherries begins to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the cherry juice has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
(*The Cherry Filling can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store in an airitght container in the refrigerator.)
Assemble and Bake the Cherry Pie:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C). Cut two pieces of aluminum foil that are about 2 feet (24 inches) long. Set the foil pieces on a baking sheet so that they are perpendicular to each other.
- Scoop the cherry pie filling into the partially baked pie crust, smoothing it out into an even layer.
- Top the cherry filling with the crumb topping.
- Set the pie in the center of the foil lined baking sheet. Wrap the foil up and over the edges of the pie crust, crimping the foil so that the edges of the pie are loosely covered. (See photo above.) This will protect the edges of the crust from burning.
- Bake the pie for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving.
If you can't find Cake Flour, you can use this substitution: Measure out 1 ½ cups (225g) of all-purpose flour, then remove 3 tablespoons (25g) of the flour and replace it with 3 tablespoons (23g) of cornstarch. Stir together thoroughly.
Each component of this pie can be prepared in advance:
- Foolproof Pie Crust Dough can be made up to 5 days in advance, stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- You can partially pre-bake the pie crust up to 2 days in advance, covering it with plastic wrap and storing it at room temperature.
- The crumb topping can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
- The Cherry Pie Filling can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 635Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 571mgCarbohydrates: 107gFiber: 5gSugar: 53gProtein: 6g