Cookbook author and baking instructor Rose Levy Beranbaum says sour cherries make the best pie, and cherry pie is her father's favorite kind.
If you must use bing cherries, which are much sweeter, reduce the sugar to about 2/3 cup and cook the filling on the stove top until thickened before filling the bottom pie crust.
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (about 6 ounces)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted, juices reserved (3 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust, for a 9-inch, 2-crust pie (see related recipe in Recipe Finder)
- Flour, for dusting the work surface
Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cherries and any of their accumulated juices and the almond extract; stir to mix well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the pie plate with the (unbaked) bottom crust from the refrigerator; discard the plastic wrap.
Spoon the cherries and their juices into the bottom pie crust.
Ten minutes before assembling the pie, remove the second disk of pie crust dough from the refrigerator.
Cover the work surface with a large pastry cloth and lightly dust with flour. Cover a rolling pin, preferably chilled or cool, with a cloth cover and roll the dough to an oval about 10 1/2 by 8 inches wide and about 1/16 inch thick. (Alternatively, roll the dough between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap.) The dough should be smooth and cool.
Use a ruler (preferably transparent) and a fluted pastry wheel (called a jagger) to cut the dough oval into 10 strips that are 3/4 inch wide. Arrange half of the strips evenly over the cherry filling. Gently fold back every other strip just past the centerpoint of the pie and then place a strip on top that runs perpendicular. Reposition the strips so that they lie flat on top of the perpendicular strip. Working in the same direction, gently fold back the strips that were not folded back the first time. Lay a second perpendicular strip on top and unfurl the folded-back strips. Repeat with a third perpendicular strip, folding back the strips that were folded back the first time.
Apply the remaining 2 strips to the other side of the pie, starting toward the center and working toward the edge. Remember to alternate strips that are folded back so that the strips form a woven pattern.
Use sharp kitchen scissors to trim the strips to a 1/2-inch overhang, if necessary. Use water to moisten the edge of the bottom crust where it contacts each strip, then tuck the overhang under the bottom crust edge, pressing down to seal it.
Crimp the edges in a decorative fashion.
Create a protective shield for the edge of the pie crust (to prevent overbrowning) by lightly crimping a ring of aluminum foil over it. Place the pie on the floor of the oven for 20 minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Adjust an oven rack so it is on the lowest level in the oven, place the baking sheet with pie on that rack and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the juices bubble thickly through the lattice and the center is slightly puffed. If the lattice becomes too dark in the last 15 minutes of baking, cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil with a vent hole in the center.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 3 hours before cutting.
From "The Pie and Pastry Bible" (Scribner, 1998), with adaptations by its author, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Tested by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
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