My Mom makes the best pie in the whole wide world. It’s truly an art that she has honed from when she began making them as a young girl. That’s a whole lotta pie practice. I was a late starter in Pie Arts beginning to craft flaky layers in my mid 30’s. It is a skill, but thank God it is one that can be learned. I brought a new friend a piece of my Classic Cherry Pie recently, and she was surprised at how good it was. Almost amazed that somebody she knew made it. Great pie isn’t made by only the Super Special. Mere mortals can actually perfect this heavenly creation.
Look, I’m far from Wonder Woman, but Pie Crust (yes, capital letters) has gone from that illusive, high bar that I’ll never achieve to…therapy.
Yes. Therapy. It took me coming to grips with the fact that this is only flour, fat, salt, and water. That’s it. With a bit of practice, it makes magic. It is messy, I’ll admit that. But it is so worth making your own pie crust. And while you have a dusting of flour in your hair, you might as well make a bit of extra pie dough to store in the freezer for those evening when you need a bit of Magic. Savory Pot Pie, anyone?
Mise en place is important for all cooking and baking, but for Pie making…essential.
The Magic starts with Mise en place – so get it together! I’ve learned from experience, it’s best to have everything out on your workspace so Mise en place is the real deal when it comes to pie making. Flour, Crisco fresh from the freezer, salt, cutting board, knife, glass Pyrex measuring cup full of ice and water, measuring spoons, pastry mat if you have one (I highly recommend the Pampered Chef pastry mat), open gallon zip lock bags, measuring cups, foil lined heavy baking pan. Look closely…can you guess a very needed tool for pie making that I forget every single time until my hands are covered in pie dough?
That’s right…can you say Rolling Pin? Ugh..every single time. Moving on.
Flour, fat, salt, and water. That’s it.
Into a bowl it goes. Flour and salt, Mix it up with a fork. I have learned that the best recipe for pie dough is a simple (almost) 2 to 1 ratio of flour to fat. I usually make deep dish pies, as that’s what my husband prefers, but the ratio is easily scaled up and down depending on the number of pies you’re making. My Mom, the Pie Queen usually makes a dozen or more pies at a time and freezes them whole, ready to bake. For a 9-inch deep dish pie, I use 3 cups of flour and then I use a 1/4 cup of Crisco less that half of that. I found that an exact 2 to 1 ratio gives me an overly greasy crust. Just cut in 1/4 cup less than half and you’ll be fine.
Here are some helpful amounts for you:
3 cups of flour to 1 1/4 cup of Crisco (so with 3 cups of flour, half would be 1.5 cups. Subtract .25 cup = 1.25 cups of Crisco)
2 cups of flour to 3/4 cup of Crisco
1 cups of flour to 1/4 cup of Crisco
Now that we have the flour to fat ratio down, let’s talk about salt. I use 1 teaspoon of salt per 3 cups of flour. This gives a nice flavor to a lot of flour. You can certainly decrease this amount if you wish but you want to add enough for a flavorful crust. I use a simple metal bowl I’ve made pies with for years. It is large enough for a couple of pies and there may be a certain superstitious belief that it’s my ‘Lucky Bowl’. The metal works well to quickly chill the dough, and it fits easily in my fridge. Lucky. Easily chilled. Fits in the fridge. Find your perfect Pie Bowl. Go with it.
You may find that a food processor bowl works for you and that is super cool. I’ve used food processors for many very successful pies. Food processors give you very expected results each time. I found that the resulting pie crust was actually too uniform.
What is she babbling on about? Expected, uniform pie crust results sounds super awesome.
Flaky layers are based on the suspension of fat (Crisco) within layers of flour. In the oven, the heat makes the water in the fat generate steam, and that steam separates the layers of dough creating pockets of air. The variance in sizes of fat give you amazingly different ranges in flaky layers. The food processor creates a very uniform ‘sand’ of the flour and fat combo, so there are no larger sizes of fat in amongst the smaller. It’s a texture thing only. The taste is exactly the same. Try both methods if you have access to a food processor and see which one you prefer.
Gently push the flour, salt, Crisco, and water together…
Once you have your fat pushed into the flour and salt mixture, it’s time to add your ice water. I have always had to add more water than all of the recipes and pie making videos I’ve every seen. The last pie video I watched showed 4 tablespoons of water. Right. Hey if you find in your climate and home environment that 4 tablespoons of water does it for you then, good on ya. This pie and almost all others required 10 tablespoons of water.
Perhaps it’s because I use more flour than a standard pie but 10 works for me. You want just enough cold water to just bring the dough together. Just. It should still be mostly dry and definitely not gummy. Gently, very gently mix with your fork and once it’s somewhat mixed, then gently (yes, gently again. Please be kind…it’s pie.) push the dough together. DO NOT KNEAD. You will not like the results. The key is to form as little gluten as possible. Many pie crust recipes call for half the liquid being vodka, as vodka doesn’t produce gluten in the flour like water will.
No vodka in my pie. My vodka is from my honeymoon 14 years ago and is stored safely in my freezer…for apparently our 25th wedding anniversary. I don’t know. We’re not big drinkers.
Once you have just enough water to form a dough, divide in half and push your dough into 2 discs. They will be shaggy and you will have to continually pat them back together. Place both discs of dough in a zip lock bag, seal and place bag in your fridge for at least a half hour. This will allow the flour to absorb the water and rest. It’s amazing how much easier the dough is once you take your chilled, rested pie dough out of the fridge. It’ll be transformed into something with the texture of play-doh, except you can eat this!
While you rest your pie dough you can make your filling. With most fruit pies, I will just mix frozen fruit with sugar and seasonings and bake. I have had better results with Classic Cherry Pie by pre-baking the cherry filling. Cherries are so water filled, that I like to control the filling thickness by cooking some of the liquid out before the pie goes in the oven.
The Cherry Filling..
I add about 8.5 cups of frozen pie cherries to a large pot. Yes. 8.5 cups of cherries. I told you the husband liked deep dish pies and he wants the filling to be really thick. Think Diner Pie. Now taste your cherries! Some are very, very tart and some not so. I then add my sugar, salt, lemon juice, cornstarch, and a bit of flour. Mix and taste again. After about 10 minutes of allowing the cherries to begin to thaw and the sugar mixes with the juices, taste again and if needed add a bit more sugar. You want to find the right balance between sweet filling and tart cherries.
Your first bite of Classic Cherry Pie should give you an initial sweet cherry filling taste with the buttery pie crust. This is followed with the zing of tart cherry flavor. The mix and balance of flavors should be almost too intense. I cannot describe it any better that the various flavors…Sing! And sing with the top note being those tart cherries. It sounds silly but when I hit the flavorings and the tartness of the cherries just right…the music and the magic of that pie is everything.
Where was I? I think I lost myself there for a moment. Back now to the mostly frozen cherry mix. Heat the burner to a bit more than medium. We want to bring the mixture to a boil to cook the cornstarch and thicken the juices. Mix frequently so the cherries and sugar do not burn. Once the cherries are completely thawed and you see how juicy this fruit is, you’ll be glad you went through this step. In the past, I’ve just dumped the frozen cherries mix into a pie shell and baked. What I got was a lot of juice running over in the pan. Or the bottom of the oven!
When the cherry mixture begins to bubble and boil, allow this to go on for 1 minute. After the 1 minute boil, stir and watch the chalky-pink mixture from all the cornstarch and flour turn to a clear, thick, ruby-red gel. I told you it’s magic. Turn off the burner and pull pot from the heat. Now stir in vanilla, almond extract and some coconut oil. Taste and add a bit more lemon juice if you need more zing, or perhaps a dash more salt. Allow the cherry filling to cool.
The Pie Dough…
Pull pie dough zip lock bag from the fridge. On your pastry mat or counter surface, sprinkle some four. Pull one of the discs from the bag and gently begin rolling the dough with short strokes with the rolling-pin. Continue to pick up and turn the dough frequently to keep it from sticking. Add more flour if necessary. I roll my pie dough a bit thicker than most – about 1/4 inch thick. Roll in a circle that is slightly bigger than the pie pan you’ll be baking in. You want to have enough hang over the edge to create beautiful, crimped edges.
Carefully fold your rolled out pie dough into quarters, and gently place into pie pan. An even easier way is to roll up your pie crust on your rolling-pin and roll over pie pan. Either way, some shaping will be required. Pie dough means breaks and tears. Don’t sweat it. For real. Just gently press the edges back together. You want to make sure you get a sealed bottom so the juices don’t flow through.
It depends on how you’re going to top your pie as to how and when you crimp the edges. If you’re putting another crust on top for a double crust pie, then just leave the edges hang over until after you add the filling. When you roll the top crust on, carefully pinch the top and bottom edges and roll them underneath the pie to seal. Then you can begin the Pie Dough Therapy.
This is Pie Dough Therapy and is hands down my favorite part (outside of eating) of pie making. I LOVE crimping pie edges. This is a pie that will be a single crust such as a pumpkin pie, so you can make your crimping beautiful before adding your filling.
Another pie therapy post: Spicy Vegan Mini Pumpkin Pies
Here is a lattice topped cherry pie that is a little bit of extra work but worth every second of it. Lattice top fruit pies are so beautiful.
Today’s Classic Cherry Pie is a classic double-crust pie. No matter how your pie looks going into the oven, the dough seems to always bake into this golden, gorgeous pie that you cannot wait to cut into. Oh, and nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked pie. Go with it. Be one with your pie dough.
Warm pie cut into way too soon! The buttery, flaky crust and that zing of the tart cherries with the sweet filling. The first piece is always the most difficult to get out of the pan and this one is falling apart, but it was so worth it. Amazing. Another winner!
How did I make Classic Cherry Pie…healthier?:
Really? Those vegans and always with the healthy thing. Look, it’s pie so outside of having fruit in it, this pie is not exactly a health food. Life is for living and pies are a wonderful work of love to be occasionally enjoyed. Balance. Moderation. Joy!
- Pie Crust - crust recipe for 9" deep dish pie
- 3 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.25 cups Crisco, frozen or very cold, cut into very small cubes
- 10 tbsp ice water - adjust this amount according to your climate and home environment - start with 4-6 tbsp of ice water and increase by one tablespoon at a time
- Pie Filling
- 8.5 cups of Red pie cherries
- ¾ - 1 cup organic granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons Lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 4-6 tablespoons Cornstarch, depending on your preferences
- ¼ Cup AP flour
- 2 tablespoons Vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon Almond extract
- 2 tablespoon Coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.
- Prepare a heavy baking pan with foil
- For pie filling, you will need a heavy bottomed, large pot.
- Mise en place: Prepare baking surface with all items needed to make pie crust: Flour, Crisco fresh from the freezer, salt, cutting board, knife, glass pyrex measuring cup full of ice and water, measuring spoons, pastry mat if you have one, open gallon zip-lock bags, measuring cups, foil lined heavy baking pan, and goodness gracious - do not forget the rolling pin!
- Mix in a large metal bowl, flour and salt. Cut in with a fork or a pastry blender the crisco until only small pieces remain, most no larger than a pea.
- One tablespoon at a time add ice water - I usually have to add 10 tablespoons - but please add only enough so your dough just holds together. Do not add too much water.
- Divide your dough in the bowl and shape into 2 discs. Place each disc flat in a gallon sized zip-lock bag. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- While dough is chilling, make your pie filing by adding frozen cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, cornstarch, and flour to your heavy bottomed pot. Mix ingredients and taste for sweetness and flavor. Adjust if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes for cherries to thaw and juices to develop at the bottom of the pan.
- After 10 minutes, stir mixture and taste again. If satisfied, turn on burner to a high-medium temperature and stir frequently while heating.
- Once the cherries have completely thawed, and the mixture begins to bubble and boil, watch carefully. Stir occasionally and watch the opaque, pinkish mixture turn to a clear, ruby red colored gel as the cornstarch thickens.
- Turn off the heat and pull from the burner. Add the vanilla, almond extract, and coconut oil.
- Mix and taste again. Add either lemon juice or salt if additional 'zing' is required.
- Allow mixture to cool while rolling out pie dough and fitting in the pie pan.
- Pull the zip lock bag from the fridge and remove one of the discs of dough. You may reseal the bag and return to the fridge until ready to roll out the top crust.
- On the pie surface - counter or pastry mat - sprinkle flour. Place the dough in the center and sprinkle with flour. Lightly flour your rolling pin and begin gently rolling out dough with short strokes. Turn the dough frequently to prevent sticking. Add extra flour if sticking occurs.
- If tears or breaks appear in the dough, gently press them back to together and gently roll over.
- When the pie dough circle is just a bit larger than the pie pan, either fold circle into quarters or roll dough onto rolling pin and roll or place onto pie pan.
- Gently push pie crust into pie pan and seal any breaks, carefully making sure the bottom and sides are completely sealed. This will prevent the cherry juices escaping the crust and sticking to the bottom.
- Chill pie pan with dough in the refrigerator until cherry filling is cooled.
- When ready to fill, remove pie pan from the fridge an carefully spoon cherries and the filling into the prepared pie pan.
- Remove pie dough top from the refrigerator and take from the zip-lock bag. Roll this dough as you did the bottom crust.
- Gently place top crust over top of the cherries and filling. Begin pressing the top and bottom edges together and gently fold the sealed edges under, resting inside the pie pan.
- Begin your Pie Dough Therapy and create beautiful crimped edges, either with your finger tips, fork edges, wooden spoon handle, etc. Go with it and create!
- When the pie is sealed and the edges are crimped, cut about 4 slits in the top crust with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape,
- Place pie in the center of your heavy, foil wrapped baking pan. Carefully place pie in the oven on the center rack.
- Bake for about an hour, or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling through the steam slits in the top of pie. Begin checking at 45 minutes.
- If the edges are getting too brown, cover edges with foil strips. You may also carefully turn your pie for even baking. My pie was done in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
- When done baking, pull pie from the oven and allow to cool. Best cooled overnight or at least 6 hours. When completely cooled, the slices will come out of the pie pan cleanly, however warm pie is my favorite. If you don't mind a little juice running out, then serve slightly warm. Cool at least 3 hours. Make it with love. Enjoy this pie.
The post Classic Cherry Pie appeared first on Designing Vegan. If you make this Classic Pie, I’d love to see your pie photos! You would not believe how many photos of pie I have from over the years. Post yours to Instagram or Facebook and remember to tag with #designingvegan