If my memory serves me correctly, the year was 1988 and a twelve year old girl requested her favorite dessert for her birthday. That beloved dessert was cherry pie. And that young girl was my big sister. Not only did she wish for that pie over a traditional birthday cake, she wished that pie all to herself.
I remember my mom and dad making a deal with her. She could have the entire pie and not share it under one condition: she had to eat it all in one sitting. A piece of cake, or pie in this case, she took the deal and soon began digging into that beautiful cherry pie. My younger brother, myself and my parents watched with our forks in hand, just waiting for her to give up. But she kept going. A quarter pie gone …she kept going, a half pie gone …she kept going.
Somewhere between three-quarters and the end she threw in the towel. What I remember most was that there wasn’t even enough for my brother and I to share. Big sis never looked at cherry pie quite the same way again.
After hearing a story like that, one might imagine my sister as a big eater, perhaps even significantly overweight. Nope. She was a track and field star and lifeguard, and later went on to become a dietician/nutritionist, and is definitely now my go-to person for health tips and food science related questions. So to mark National Cherry Pie Day and my sister’s birthday, which is tomorrow, I dedicate this post and recipe to her.
- 400g fresh or frozen pitted cherries
- ½ cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp agar agar (optional)
- ½ tsp citric acid
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup rice flour (optional, though if omitted add an extra 1/4 cup of AP flour)
- 120g cold unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp cold vegetable shortening or lard
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup ice water
- Egg wash (1 egg + 2 tbsp water)
For the filling:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add cherries and water. Simmer for 20 minutes until a considerable amount of has dispersed.
2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and citric acid together, then add to cherries. Heat until liquid thickens. Remove from heat and let cool before adding to pie crust.
For the crust:
1. In a bowl or food processor, add flour, sugar and salt. Stir or pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and shortening and cut into flour or pulse for just a few seconds. Add the water and pulse to bring together. Divide into two equal parts and wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. When cherry filling is cold and the crust has rested for at least 30 minutes, remove from fridge and roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface. Repeat for the top. *Tip: rolling the pastry out on wax paper helps when transferring it to the pie pan.
3. Carefully place the thin crust in a 9 inch pie pan and pour the cold cherry filling into the crust. Lay the top over the filling and press the edges of the crust and top together. Trim excess dough around the edges. If the dough seems warm, place the pie in the freezer for 10-15min.
4. Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 50 minutes at 210°C. If crust starts to darken too quickly, turn temperature down to 180°C and continue baking for remainder of time.
Just a quick note, agar agar is similar to gelatin in texture, though the set-up time is different and unlike gelatin, agar agar will not melt at room temperature. Agar agar can be found in most Asian shops and large supermarkets. I highly encourage using it for structural stability of the filling but it isn’t necessary.