English Cherries have a fleeting season, and they should be celebrated in the same way that our Asparagus is. English Cherries are full and sweet, they burst with the subtle flavour of Summer and we are lucky if we manage to get to them before the birds do. This pie is great because it should be made in advance, ready for the weekend to be sliced and warmed slightly with some whipped cream or even eaten cold, straight from the fridge - think how happy you'll be when you get in from a heavy friday night!
As mentioned above, the beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and the fact you can get everything ready ahead of time. If you are scared of making pastry, you can absolutely buy ready rolled shortcrust pastry, saying that, I can guarantee you this pastry recipe below is crazy easy and gives awesome results.
For the Pastry:
250g Plain Flour
A Splash of Milk
1. Add your flour, salt and sugar to a mixing bowl. Cube your butter, it should be fridge cold and throw it into the bowl with the dry stuff.
2. Mulch the flour and cubes of butter up with your hands, it will be a little bit of a workout. When the butter and flour is mulched up and starting to soften, start going a little more delicate and rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until you come to a half breadcrumb-y, half pea-sized bits of butter consistency. You want these whole bits of butter in your final dough to make the pastry flaky and light.
3. Next step is the tricky part. Clean off your hands and grab a bottle of milk. You want to add a dash of milk (whole milk preferably) to the dough with one hand, while the other brings together the dough with the liquid. it shouldn't be much more than a shots worth of milk and this will just help to bind the dough. It doesn't matter if it's not all clumping into one ball, as long as you have most of it bound, the resting will help the dough fully hydrate.
4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm, getting all the drier, stray bits in there aswell. Wrap the mass up and then flatten it inside the clingfilm (less messy this way). You'll want to rest this dough in the fridge for a few hours, and up to a few days - this means you can have this made well in advance..
Now you have your pastry made, it's onto the fun bit - Cherries! This method works well for most types of fruit and I'd prefer it if you used something more seasonal in the colder months... I'm looking forward to a Perfect Pear and Plum Pie (check that alliteration!)
25ml Kirsch or Amaretto (optional - or other booze it doesn't matter too much if you put a shot of that Jack Daniels in that you have in the cupboard that no-one will drink)
40ml Lemon Juice
1. This is the tedious part - split and de-seed those cherries. Yes all of them.
2. Now you have cherry juice-stained hands, put all of your cherries into a bowl and mix them with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the butter. Let this sit for a few hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.
3. When you are ready to make your pie, pull your dough out of the fridge and cut it roughly, not in half, but I'd say in a ratio of about 60/40. Roll out the bigger piece and line your tart case (did I mention you needed a tart case or pie case to make a pie...?).
4. (optional) Go to the shop and buy a tart or pie case. Or rummage through that cupboard of things that you never use to see if you have one.
5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
6. Watch a youtube video on how to line a tart case. We recommend this one.
7. Line your tart case, add your filling, top with little bits of that butter you didn't put into the cherry pie filling, then roll out and pop the pie lid on - don't forget to crimp those edges! Chill you tart before placing in the oven - about 30 minutes should just help the pastry to firm up. I like to egg-wash and sprinkle Demerara sugar onto the top of my pies, or you could egg-wash and draw a little decoration - or make pastry leaves. You could do nothing, it is entirely your choice - just make sure you have some incisions for steam to escape!
8. Bake your pie for 15 minutes at 200 degrees before turning the pie and turning the oven down to 170 degrees for a further 25-30 minutes. The pastry should be golden, the filling should be bubbly. Sit on a windowsill to cool (a la every cartoon ever made) and enjoy once cooled or chill fully and enjoy at a later date.