This time of year always makes me feel kind of nostalgic, with memories of long summer holidays. With such beautiful warm weather, the last thing I want to do is be sitting inside at my desk! I’ve been reminiscing a lot about when life was much simpler and carefree, with no bills to pay, no appointments to keep. When pleasures were as simple as letting the juice of a mango run all the way down your arm, or staying in the swimming pool until dinnertime, emerging finally with wrinkled fingers and bloodshot eyes.
Holiday mornings were spent helping Grandpa pick oranges and lemons to squeeze into fresh juice or turn into sweet icy granita. Afternoons were spent in the pool, no matter what. I remember a few days where we went for a swim, even though it was raining! We would pick the ripe pomegranates from the tree, sit at the table and dislodge the ruby red jewels one by one, eating handfuls at a time. And buy boxes of cherries that I’d eat until my lips and hands were stained red.
It was those days I was thinking about when I made this cherry pie. I originally made it to take to Simon’s birthday picnic a few weeks ago, but a variety of factors conspired against me, not least of all the weather, and I never made it to the party. But this tart was so good, so perfectly summery, that I just had to share it here. Though I realise it’s not really a proper substitute, I’m being a big tease, and I still owe Karen a cherry pie. Enjoy this with a big scoop of ice cream, sitting outside on a sultry summer night after a great backyard barbeque. There’s nothing better.
I used my favourite vanilla pastry recipe from Donna Hay, which has never let me down, and is always buttery and delicious. If you can find sour cherries, they are brilliant in this pie, though you can use sweet cherries as well, just add a little extra lemon juice. I found that the filling was very liquid straight from the oven but was much better after 24 hours in the fridge. Thanks to my sister also, who very patiently pitted all those cherries!
Sour Cherry Pie
Adapted from Bon Appetit
• 1 2/3 cup plain flour
• 1 tablespoon caster sugar
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• 180g cold butter, chopped
• 1/3 cup iced water
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornflour
• 5 cups whole pitted sour cherries or dark sweet cherries (about 900g whole unpitted cherries)
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, up to 3 tablespoons if using sweet cherries
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
• 1 tablespoon milk
• Vanilla ice cream, to serve
1. To make the pastry, place flour, sugar and baking powder in a food processor and process to combine. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water and vanilla and process until the mixture comes together to form a smooth dough.
2. Divide the dough in half and flatten slightly. Wrap each pastry disk in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling out.
3. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).
4. To make the filling, whisk 1 cup sugar, cornflour and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, vanilla and lemon juice and set aside.
5. Roll out 1 dough disk on a floured surface. Transfer to pie dish and trim the dough overhang to 1cm. Roll out second dough disk on floured surface. Using a large knife or pastry wheel, cut 10 x 2cm wide strips from dough round.
6. Transfer filling to dough lined dish, mounting slightly in the center. Dot with butter. Arrange dough strips atop filling, forming a lattice pattern. Trim dough strip overhang to 1cm. Fold bottom crust up over ends of strips and crimp edges to seal.
7. Brush the lattice crust, not the edges with milk and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
8. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 190°C (375°F). Bake pie for about 1 hour, until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.