Today we are tackling this quintessential summertime treat: Homemade Sweet Cherry Pie. Made from fresh cherries, tart raspberries, and an all-butter pie crust, this recipe skips the canned filling and boxed crust in favor of juicy, seasonal cherries and the flakiest, golden pastry. Vanilla ice cream optional, but highly recommend!
How to Make Sweet Cherry Pie from Scratch
Cherry season is fleeting. Here’s how to make the most out of your haul:
Pitting Fresh Cherries
I don’t always care for single-use kitchen tools, but I have zero regrets when it comes to my cherry pitter. Even in our small apartment kitchen, where storage is scarce, my cherry pitter is a beloved item, especially in the summer.
If you don’t have a cherry pitter, I have a few tricks for you that hopefully won’t turn your kitchen into a crime scene (although I highly recommend placing a kitchen towel on your work surface to catch cherry juice spray no matter which method you use). Use a round piping tip to push out pits. This method is pretty easy, but the metal edges might hurt your fingers after a while.
Alternatively, use a sturdy straw to push out the pits. If you can manage, place the cherrie on top of a bottle with a small opening (so the the cherry rests on top, but doesn’t fall in). Press the straw through the center so that the pits collect into the bottle. Ta-da!
Homemade Sweet Cherry Pie Filling
Halved cherries make the best pie chilling. They are large enough that they still keep their shape when baked, but they are small enough to get all sweet and juicy. You do not need to pre-cook the fruit before adding it to your pie crust.
Cherries can be quite sweet and one-dimensional. To add balance and intrigue, I mixed the cherries with raspberries. When baked, the raspberries break down more than the cherries and leave tart, jammy pockets that burst with flavor in each bite. Frozen raspberries work great here. Do not thaw before using, just simply fold them into the filling at the end.
A pinch of cardamom and squeeze of fresh lemon brighten up the entire pie. If you don’t have cardamom, feel free to substitute it with ground ginger or simply leave it out.
How to Make a Super Flaky Pie Crust
It’s easy to over-mix pie dough in a food processor. Making pie dough by hand gives you the most control over your dough. For the biggest flakes, you want the dough to have visible pieces of butter that are marbled throughout. Keeping the butter and water extra cold helps the butter from over-combining with the flour.
As the oven pre-heats, chill the prepared pie. This way, as the cold butter pieces in the dough hit the heat of the oven, they begin to melt. As the water content evaporates, they create little pockets of steam throughout that turn into the crispy flakes of crust that we love so much.
Click here to learn how to make pie dough by hand.
Halving the cherries ensure that they cook down but still hold their shape when served.
Cardamom pairs wonderfully with the tart raspberries. If you don’t have cardamom, try ginger or skip it.
No need to thaw out frozen raspberries. Toss them in while still frozen at the end of the filling and fold together - taking care not to crush them.
Starting the pie at a higher temperature ensures a nice and golden crust. If it browns too much before the filling is done, tent the crust with foil or a pie shield.
When the pie is done, the filling should bubble and pop through the vents to make sure the thickeners (cornstarch) are activated.
An egg wash creates a shiny, golden crust. You may use parts of an egg or a whole egg whisked with milk, cream, or even water. The more fat (yolk, cream), the more browning will occur.
Homemade Sweet Cherry Pie Recipe
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
⅔ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups frozen raspberries
splash milk for egg wash
sugar for sprinkling.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into a circle, about 12-inches in diameter. Fit the pie dough into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan. Trim the edges, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and lemon. Add the raspberries and gently fold to combine. Pour the filling into the prepared pie dough and set aside.
Roll out the second half of pie dough into a circle, about 12-inches in diameter. Place the second piece on top of the fruit. Press to seal the top and bottom pieces of dough around the edges. Gently tuck under the edges and crimp together with your thumb and fingers. Vent the top crust by cutting a few slits and/or cut out the center with a small cookie cutter or round piping tip. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes as the oven preheats.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F. When ready to bake, whisk together the egg and a splash of milk (cream or even water will work too) to create an egg wash. Brush the egg wash all over the top of the crust then sprinkle with sugar. Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 370°F and continue to bake for an additional 35 to 45 minutes. When done, the crust should be golden brown and the juices should be bubbling up between the vents.
Remove the pie from the oven and allow for it to completely cool before slicing. Serve pie at room temperature. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.