We need pie! Fortunately, this week one of the local stores had a sale on fresh cherries from the Northwest. It seemed unbelievable that we could get a pound of cherries for under a dollar, but it was true. We snapped up about 4 pounds; plus, we’ll pick up some more before the cherries go off sale, and both you and we will benefit. Why will you benefit? Well, you’ll see exactly how we make our soon-to-be-famous Cherry Maple Pie with Almonds.
Yes, another in a sporadic series of Scratchin’ It original recipes is coming your way with this pie recipe. Now, don’t think we’re smart enough to figure out a pie recipe just from nothing. Instead, this is vaguely based on the recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Pie that we love so much (if strawberries are on sale near you, we highly recommend baking up one).
We recommend using this recipe for Pâte Brisée: it’s simple, it always works, and it’s the best-tasting crust we know. If you’re tempted to use something other than real maple syrup, we’d recommend that you just make a non-maple pie instead. Finally, that egg wash. We used to get annoyed with recipes that called for egg wash (you can omit it and the sparkling sugar) because you use so little of that one egg, but it does make the crust look nicer and helps the sugar to stick. Now, we just plan and use the leftover wash for pasta, or a small omelet, or even a bit of scrambled egg. Sparkling sugar is a special type of sugar that holds its shape during baking. Plus, it’s a larger crystal and looks nice. If you don’t have any, use granulated sugar, or just skip it.
Procedure in detail:
Make filling. We think that you can probably just mix together the cherries, 1/4 cup flour, salt, maple syrup, almond extract, and almonds, in a large bowl and set it aside. We did it an ingredient at a time, stirring to coat as we went along. We thought that this might prevent lumps of flour, and maybe it did. Or maybe not.
Make magic dust. The secret of fruit pies: magic dust. Well, not magic, really. Just flour and sugar. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Sprinkle this on the bottom of the crust before adding the fruit filling and it’ll form a barrier between the fruit and crust, helping to prevent Soggy Crust Syndrome (SCS).
Roll crust. On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll one of the crusts into an 11-inch circle and press into the pie pan. Try not to stretch the crust as you press it into the pan, because it’ll shrink back during baking. If your crust seems soft, as if the butter is melting into the flour while rolling, pop it into the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Fill. Sprinkle the magic dust (flour/sugar mixture) over the bottom of the crust, stir the cherries around so they’re all coated, and pour into the pan, making sure to scrape out the expensive maple syrup. Place the pie in the fridge while you roll the top crust.
Roll top crust. On that lightly floured work surface, roll the top crust into an 11-inch circle, and use it to top the pie. We like the traditional lattice-top crust, but a solid crust with slits (to let the steam escape), is great, also. When we cut the lattice, we like to use a fluted wheel to add interest, but straight sides cut with a sharp knife will taste just as good. Once the top crust is in place, crimp the edges. We use the tines of a fork.
Refrigerate. Place the pie in the fridge for 30 minutes to give the gluten in the crust time to relax.
Apply egg wash and sugar. Whisk together the egg and a teaspoon of cold water, and, using a pastry brush, paint the crust. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Move a rack to the lowest position and another rack to the middle position in the oven; you’ll use both.
Bake. Place the pie on a baking sheet (to contain any spillage) and set on the bottom rack of the oven. Let the pie bake 20-25 minutes, until the crust begins to brown, then lower the oven to 375°F, and move the pie, baking sheet and all, to the middle rack. Continue baking the pie, 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbling.
Cool completely. Remove the pie to a rack and cool completely. If you cut the pie too soon, the filling will not have had time to set up and it’ll leak out, making a messy- looking piece of pie.
This is one great pie! A good strong maple flavor, especially after standing overnight, a little crunch from the almond slices, and some really great-tasting cherries (the fresh ones we’ve gotten lately have been perfect). If you’re looking for something to make from your fresh cherries, consider scratchin’ up this pie; we’re sure you’ll agree that it’s worth five stars.