Monday, July 2, 2012

Homemade Cherry Pie with Flaky Crust {Recipe}

When I was a little kid, my grandparents had a handful of tart cherry trees in their back yard. I remember spending a summer weekend or two helping my Grandma make cherry pie filling, which she'd freeze in Cool Whip containers. Then, one year, they had to cut down ALL of their cherry trees. I think there was an insect infestation or blight or something. I remember my Grandma being just devastated at the loss of her trees. Of course, at the time, I didn't understand why Grandma cared about the silly trees. Now... I get it.

Tart cherry pie is the only pie that matters as far as I'm concerned. My husband may love his chocolate pie or strawberry-rhubarb pie, but for me, Cherry Pie is where it's at. My Father-In-Law agrees with me entirely. So, for Father's Day, I set out to make him a cherry pie.

Now, I wish I could have gotten my hands on some of Grandma's fresh, or even frozen, tart cherries. But for whatever reason they practically don't exist in Minnesota. So, I am forced to go with the canned variety.

What You Need:
For the Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3-4 Tbsp. ice water
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vinegar

For the Filling:
2- 14.5 oz. cans Tart Cherries (in water)
1 cup sugar
3-4 Tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. almond extract

Make the Crust Dough:

Cut the butter into thin slices-- I aim for about 3 per "Tbsp." marker on the wrapper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium-sized mixing bowl), combine flour and salt. Add the butter and the shortening.

Mix on lowest speed until you have coarse, pea-sized crumbs. (If not using a stand mixer, use a pastry cutter to get pea-sized crumbs.)

In a small bowl, combine the egg, vinegar and 3 Tbsp. water. Whisk with fork.

Add the liquid to the mixing bowl, and mix on the lowest speed until the dough forms a ball.

Remove from the bowl to floured parchment (or waxed) paper.  Shape into a disk and divide into four equal pieces. Each of these four pieces makes one crust part for a pie. So, for this two-crust pie, you will only use two pieces. Wrap the other two in plastic wrap, place those into a zip-top bag, and stick them into the freezer for the next time you need a pie.

Shape the other two pieces into small disks, and stick them into a baggie or plastic wrap, and place them in the refrigerator while you work on the filling.

Make the Filling:

To make the filling, drain two cans of tart cherries... reserving 1 cup of the juice.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn starch. (If you want thicker filling, use more corn starch. If you want the filling a little more saucy, use less.)

Pour the reserved juice into the sugar mixture and whisk to combine. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. (Everyone's stove is a little different.)

You want it to be thick, and no longer translucent. It should be transparent-- not cloudy at all.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla and almond extract. Allow to cool a little before adding the cherries back in.

Assemble the Pie:
While the filling cools, it's time to roll out the pie crust and preheat the oven to 425-degrees (F).

Roll the crust into a circle about 10-12" in diameter, depending on the size of your pie plate.
It was at this point- after rolling the crust, and standing on a step stool to take a photo of it - that I slipped off of the step stool, dropping the camera in the process... which landed lens-down on top of my hand, my right hand, the one that is not just here for looks.
Thankfully, after lots of ice- and tears- it has healed nicely... except for one bump that I probably should have examined by a doctor, but probably won't.

I then enlisted the help of my sous-chef, also known as my husband, to help with the rest of the pie. (It was for his Dad's Father's Day after all!)
He lovingly flipped the crust into the pie plate. (If you roll it on the parchment paper, you can pick the paper up, and lay it across your arm, then line your arm up with the middle of the pie plate and flip it over, then peel it back.
(See my tutorial on how to cover a cake with fondant for a good idea of how this is done.)

Pour the filling on top of that bottom crust, then top with the top crust- lay it over the top just like you placed it in the bottom- by lining up the parchment paper, flipping and peeling. Trim the edges so that only about one-inch hangs down over the edges of the pie plate.

Fold the crust over itself, and seal the edges by placing the two fingers of your right hand on the outside edge of the crust, and the thumb of your left hand between those two fingers.

Bake the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. I use a Pie Shield to keep the edges from getting over-browned. You can also wrap foil around the edges to achieve the same thing. (It's just a little more work.)

The pie will bake for about 45-55 minutes at 425-degrees (F).  Remove the pie to a cooling rack, and cool for at least an hour before serving. (You never want to cool the pie right on the counter, it needs air on the bottom too, or the bottom crust can get gummy.)

In the end, after all of the drama surrounding this pie... it was much-loved by my Father-in-Law. It was even still hot when we delivered it!

Click the Links Below to See:
More Pie Recipes
My Most Ridiculous Chocolate Cake ever, featuring pie crust

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  1. hello loved your recipes, I'm following you and monitor their work.


  2. This recipe is so good explained and detailed! That's what i like to see. And pie on photos looks delicious!


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