A few months after we started dating, I offered to bake something for Nick’s birthday. His request: cherry pie.
Since then, I have baked him a cherry pie for every birthday. (Well, every birthday except one, but that was the year I bought him a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, so I think I made up for it.)
The plan was to continue the tradition this year, but I hit a snag- Trader Joe’s did not have any frozen cherries. I settled for what they called a “Very Cherry Berry Blend” but in reality was a bag of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries with about four cherries mixed in. Ah well. I had a feeling Nick wouldn’t complain too much. Yes, I could have tried another grocery store, but more and more, I am embracing the challenge of working with what’s available and not wasting time and gas running around town trying to track down one ingredient.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit’s Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust. I love that the crust is all butter, no shortening. It’s a little more challenging to work with, but it tastes so good. For those of you who are intimidated by pie crust- you kinda just have to let go of the expectation that the end product is going to look like a magazine photo. I never manage to get a pretty crimped edge, and it’s guaranteed that some of the filling is gonna bubble over the edge of the crust. But you know what? It still tastes awesome, and any type of lattice top, even if it’s not perfectly aligned, is going to look impressive.
I messed with the filling recipe a bit more. Besides the obvious adjustments for the fruits used, I also upped the amount of vanilla extract and added some almond extract as well. I used equal parts vanilla and almond, but I’m going to advise cutting back on the almond a bit. Nick was happy with it and it tasted fine, but the almond extract was really fragrant. And while the berry blend was fine, I am dying to make this again as a purely cherry pie.
Vanilla & Almond Cherry (or Berry) Pie with Lattice Crust (serves 8)
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
*I suggest cutting the butter into cubes, and sticking it in the freezer for a couple minutes before blending the crust
Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until small pea-sized clumps form. Add 5 tbsp ice water; mix lightly with fork until dough holds together when small pieces are pressed together. Add more water one teaspoon at a time if dough is dry.
Gather dough together and halve. Form each piece into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Let soften slightly before rolling out.
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups frozen cherries or combination of berries, mostly thawed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon milk
Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in berries, vanilla, and almond extract. Set aside.
Roll out 1 dough disk on a floured surface to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Roll out second disk to another 12-inch round. Cut ten 3/4-inch-wide strips from dough round.
Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Arrange dough strips on top of filling, forming lattice. (Bon Appetit has a great “how-to“.) Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold bottom crust over lattice strips and crimp edges to seal.
Brush lattice (not edges) with milk and sprinkle with about one tablespoon sugar.
Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, obviously.