Classic Cherry Pie by Stella Parks

Episode 44: Stars of Serious Eats

Stella Parks: Cherry pie is the first dessert I ever made for Ed, who ate a slice out of hand while standing in the old Grand Street kitchen. I think he said something to the effect of, “Holy shit, this is fuckin’ good!” Is it bragging if I agree? The crust is buttery and crisp along the top and bottom, encasing a gooey cherry filling that’s equal parts sour and sweet.

YIELD: one 9-inch pie

  • 1 All-Butter Pastry Crust, prepared as directed (see below)

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 2 pounds whole, unpitted cherries, preferably a mix of yellow and red (6 heaping cups)

  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 7 ounces cane sugar (about 1 cup)

  • ¾ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1½ ounces tapioca flour or tapioca starch, not pearls or instant tapioca (about ⅓ cup plus 1 teaspoon)

FOR THE EGG WASH:

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • ½ ounce heavy cream (about 1 tablespoon)

  • ⅛ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash and pit the cherries, then measure 28 ounces (5 heaping cups) fruit into a medium bowl; add lemon juice, sugar, salt, and tapioca starch, tossing with a flexible spatula to combine. Scrape into prepared pie shell and refrigerate.

  2. With a ruler and pastry wheel, cut chilled sheet of dough into even strips, and arranged as desired over the fruit- filled pie. When covered, trim the excess dough flush to the edge of the pie plate, and refrigerate until firm and cold, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to middle position and one to the topmost position and preheat to 400°F.

  3. In a small bowl, whisk egg, yolk, cream, and salt together until smooth; brush over chilled pie. Bake on a parchment- lined aluminum baking sheet until golden brown, with juices starting to bubble through the center, about 75 minutes or 213°F on a digital thermometer. Halfway through, you may want to slide an empty baking sheet onto the top rack to act as a shield and prevent excess browning.

  4. Cool the pie until to warmer than 85°, and cut with a chef’s knife to serve.

Old Fashioned, All-Butter Pastry Crust

  • 8 ounces low-protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal blue label (about 1¾ cups, plus 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 8 ounces cold, unsalted American butter, cut into cubes no smaller than ½ an inch

  • 4 ounces cool water, around 60°F (about ½ cup)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl, then add the cubes of butter. Toss to break up the pieces, then smash each cube flat between your fingers. Do not work the butter any more than this at all, the pieces should be chunky and large. With a flexible spatula, stir in the water and knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Do not add more water, just keep kneading until it comes together. Transfer to a generously floured work space, sprinkle with more flour, and roll until about 10 by 15 inches, sprinkling with more flour as needed along the way.

  2. Fold each 10-inch side toward the middle, then close the packet like a book. Fold once more to make a thick block. Divide the dough in half, aiming to make one piece slightly larger than the other. On a well-floured work surface, roll the larger piece into 10- by 15-inch rectangle; transfer to a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and refrigerate.

  3. Roll the smaller, roughly 9-ounce portion into a 13-inch round, and transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold the excess dough over itself to form a tall border that sits atop the rim of the pie plate. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until needed.

  4. Troubleshooting: when room temperature rises substantially over 70°F, equipment and pantry staples may act as a heat source to the butter, causing it to soften and melt. To avoid problems with a sticky dough, chill the mixing bowl, flour, and rolling pin to just 70°F, and use bags of ice water to cool the countertops before rolling. The idea is to mimic cooler, but not frozen, conditions, so don’t go crazy.

Excerpted from Serious Eater © 2019 by Ed Levine. Reproduced by permission of Portfolio. All rights reserved.

Brian Stewartrecipe