I have never been a “cherry” person. For whatever reason, I just never found these round, ruby colored jewels of fruit to be very appealing. My mother will confirm this. Every time we go out for a hot fudge sundae, or any dessert served with a cherry on top, she will end up with two cherries on her dessert. I just can’t handle eating a plain, old cherry. There is something about it my palate just doesn’t like. I can eat cherries within a cake or anytime it is covered in rich, dark chocolate, but never “just cherries.”
For that reason, I have never baked a cherry pie. I could eat a slice of cherry pie with a heaping spoonful of vanilla ice cream dripping over the pastry crust, and melting slowly into the juice, but it wasn’t enough for me to set about baking one from scratch on a hot July afternoon.
It wasn’t until our local grocery store featured fresh, sweet cherries at $1.99 a pound, and the Fourth of July holiday, that I decided to take the plunge. There is something about the rich, red cherry and the thought of fireworks bursting in the night sky that make cherry pie our go-to dessert this time of year.
I am glad I did. This recipe I found in Better Homes and Gardens, “Baking Step-by-Step,” was a cinch to make and easy to adapt using fresh cherries instead of canned cherries as is stated in the original recipe. Though I did have to break down and use a store-bought crust, (my pastry wasn’t cooperating in my humid kitchen, even with two fans running), the lattice was simpler than I anticipated. I could have skipped the fancy lattice crust but I needed an excuse to use my new pastry crimper. The result was a tasty, slightly tart, cherry lattice pie that was perfect for any reason; not just Independence Day.
Recipe for Fresh Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust
2 frozen pastry crusts or recipe for double pastry crusts if baking from scratch (allow frozen pastry to come to room temperature)
1 lb. fresh, sweet cherries; pitted (the original recipe calls for (2) 14 ½ oz. cans pitted cherries in water pack)
1 ½ cups of sugar
¼ cup of cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of butter
½ teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup of cherry brandy or cherry juice (the original recipe asks that you reserve the water pack from the canned cherries and use that for making the syrup you will pour over the cherries)
Preheat oven to 375*
Directions for crusts:
- If using store bought pastry as I did, allow them to come to room temperature. Then line the bottom of one 9-inch pie plate with one of the crusts. Using a knife or pastry crimper, cut out about eight, thin strips of pie pastry and set aside.
Directions for syrup:
- In a medium sized saucepan, add sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Gradually add the cherry brandy or cherry juice. Cook the liquid over a medium-high heat while continuing to stir. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, remove from heat.
- Stir in pitted cherries. (I made the mistake of keeping the cherries whole. It looks better but is much easier to eat if you slice the cherries in half). Add the butter, and almond extract to the cherries and stir well.
- Fill the pastry lined pie plate with the cherry filling. Trim the excess pastry from the edges of the pie plate.
- Begin weaving the lattice crusts over the filling. Place four to six strips of pastry across the top of the filling vertically. (It is easier to weave an even number of pastry strips than odd numbers of them).
- Now, counting across, pull back the even numbered strips of pastry. Place a strip of pastry horizontally (across), the odd numbered strips of pastry. Now, pick up the even numbered strips of pastry and place them back over the filling.
- With the odd numbered strips of pastry, pull them back and add a strip of pastry across the top of the even numbered strips of pastry. Then lift up the odd numbered strips and place them back over the filling. Continue this pattern until you have reached the top of the pie plate.
Optional: brush pastry strips with an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes. You will want to cover the edges of the pie with foil to keep them from browning too soon. If you have a pie crusts shield, this works even better.
Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven to ensure the bottom crusts bakes to a golden brown and doesn’t become soggy.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or plain.