CHERRY PIE

There's something reassuring about a cherry pie. It's just one of those basic bakes, which you'd expect to come out of many home kitchens without fuss or faff. Mine is based around that notion, but it has to have a little something extra for me - of course it does. This comes in the form of balsamic vinegar. Just a single teaspoon really lifts the flavour of those cherries. 

I've included a recipe for a sweet pastry, but don't feel bullied into using that. A shop bought sweet, or even plain, shortcrust would be just fine. 

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the Pastry 

  • 125g salted butter, softened but not melted 
  • 35g caster sugar 
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 medium egg 
  • 250g plain flour 

For the Filling

  • 600g frozen cherries (morello or sweet), defrosted 
  • 150g apple (cox or braeburn are nicest), peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm cubes 
  • 125g caster sugar 
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar 
  • 1.5 tbsp cornflour 
  • Beaten egg, to glaze 
  • Demerara sugar to dust 

Essential Equipment

  • 20cm flan ring or 20cm loose bottomed tart tin 
  • Baking beans or dried rice 

Method

If making your own pastry, beat together the softened butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and smooth and the sugar is more or less dissolved - a balloon whisk and a large mixing bowl is the best way to do this.  Once smooth, add the egg and beat that in too, then toss in the flour and cut that in - either with a dough scraper or a butter knife. When the pastry comes together in large clumps, tip it out onto the work top and gently press it together until it forms a soft ball of dough. Flatten into a disk, wrap in cling and place into the fridge for at least thirty minutes. 

For the filling, place all of the ingredients into a medium pan and set over a medium/high heat. Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fairly thick. Decant into a cold bowl and allow to cool completely. 

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Flour the worktop and roll out two thirds of the pastry until it is roughly the thickness of a pound coin (about 3mm). Ensure it has a diameter big enough to line the flan ring or tart tin. If using a flan ring, place that onto a baking sheet. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin, then gently and loosely unroll it into the ring/tin. Fold the edges down into the ring/tin, then press the pastry into the corners of the ring/tin and up the sides. Leave the excess hanging over the edge, this will be removed later. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork, then line with some baking paper. Fill the baking paper with baking beans or dried rice, right to the top of the ring/tin. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans/rice and paper and bake for a further 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a sharp, serrated knife, saw of the overhanding pastry, then fill with the cherry mixture (any leftover is perfect on thick, buttered toast). 

Roll out the remaining pastry - ensuring the board is well floured - so that it is a circle just bigger than the diameter of the pastry case. With the beaten egg, lightly glaze the edge of the pastry disk then place that, glaze side down, on top of the pie. Crimp the edges to seal, then glaze the top of the pastry and sprinkle over some demerara sugar. Make a small incision into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until gorgeously browned. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.