I’m of the opinion that life is too short not to make the most of it when sweet cherries are in season, as they are now. I found some at the local market the other day that were only a dollar a pound, so I bought several pounds.
Some we ate, some we made into sugar-free preserves using concentrated white grape juice–you can find a similar recipe for apricot preserves that I wrote earlier this summer, and just substitute the cherries for apricots–and the rest I made into this luscious pie. It is a single crust pie with a crumb topping that has coconut and almonds in it, and the combination of flavors is one of my favorites. The recipe comes from EzraPoundCake.com, and is adapted from a recipe by Ken Haedrich from his cookbook entitled Pie. My go-to, easy pie crust recipe that works for sweet or savory pies comes from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven cookbook, and it’s called “‘Perfect Ten’ Tart Crust”–a perfect pie crust in ten minutes (191).
Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie With Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping
Makes: 1 nine-inch pie
Prep and cooking time: 2 1/2 hours (includes 1 hour to pit cherries–you can cut down on the time by using pitted cherries, which are sold in the frozen foods section of the store)
From: EzraPoundCake.com, adapted from Pie by Ken Haedrich. Pie Crust from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable Heaven.
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1-3 tablespoons cold water
For the Cherry Pie Filling:
4 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted (be sure to wear disposable gloves when you pit cherries, because they can stain your fingers)
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (note: I usually cut this down to 1/4 cup, with no ill effects to the finished pie–use your judgement and tastebuds to suit)
3 tablespoons cherry liqueur
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
For the Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping:
1/2 cup sugar (I usually cut this down to 1/3 cup–let your tastebuds decide here on the amount)
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Garnish (optional, but really good!):
French Vanilla Ice Cream
A. To make the pie crust:
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cut in the butter in slices, and buzz several times until the mixture is uniform and resembles coarse meal.
Continue to process in quick spurts as you add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time. As soon as the dough adheres to itself when pinched together, stop adding water, turn it out onto a floured surface, and push it together into a ball. (I find that it often takes more water to create the dough–you want it to stick together, but not be too sticky. I also always turn dough out onto waxed paper–it makes for easy counter cleanup afterward.)
Roll the dough into a circle approximately an inch larger than your pie pan–approximately 11 inches or so. Lift the dough into the pie pan, and peel the waxed paper off it. Nudge the dough gently into the corners, and use your hands to form an even edge all the way around. (At this point, you can wrap tightly, and store in the refrigerator or freezer until use if you wish.)
B. To make the pie:
1. For this juicy pie, you want to form the edge of the pie dough into an upstanding ridge, which helps to hold in the juices. Place the dough, in the pie pan, in the freezer for 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
3. In a large bowl, combine the cherries, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the cherry liqueur, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well, then set aside for 15 minutes to juice. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the cornstarch, then stir the mixture into the fruit. Turn the filling into the chilled pie dough shell, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the topping. In a food processor with the steel blade, combine the sugar and almonds, and pulse until the nuts are chopped. Add the flour, coconut and salt. Pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the top, and pulse until the mixture starts to form gravelly crumbs. (At this point, Ezra Pound Cake says to dump the crumbs into a large bowl, and rub between your fingers until the mixture forms large, buttery crumbs, which I could never get to work and didn’t seem necessary anyway to me, so I always skip that part.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
5. Remove the pie from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Carefully dump the coconut-almond-butter topping mixture in the center of the pie, spreading it evenly over the surface with your hands and the back of a spoon. Tamp them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, about 30 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes.
6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool. Serve barely warm with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Just a sweet, juicy bite of summer!
Do you have a favorite summer fruit pie that you like to make? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, so stop by for a visit!
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