Fruit pies are the quintessential summer dessert, don’t you think? I realize the new season isn’t officially here yet, but with temperatures now steadily above 80, and one of Brian’s dear friends in town for the weekend, I thought I’d bake a little something special and summery to take with us to Lake Anna, so that’s what I did.
I decided on cherries because they’re one of the most special fruits out there (read: expensive). The two bags I bought at Whole Foods set me back 20 dollars. 20! A steep price to pay, for sure, but given the extra special company we had, the premium pie filling was more than justified, it was necessary.
You’ll notice I called this recipe Cherry Vanilla Pie, and there’s a reason for that extra word squeezed in the middle there. Completely unrelated to my cherry-pie mission, I grabbed a can of 365 Cherry Vanilla Creme Soda before making my way to the check-out line. As you know, I abstain from most soft drinks, but the cherry vanilla stuff I can never resist when I shop at Whole Foods. Never. So there I was, walking home with cherries and cherry soda in tow, when it finally hits me, about two blocks from my apartment, that I could and should bake my pie with both. Both!
My first reaction was excitement, then disappointment that I didn’t buy a second can to drink, before ultimately settling back on excitement. Having never made a cherry pie before, replacing ingredients in favor of new ones was a bit of a risky experiment, but I can happily report that it was a successful one. Who needs water, sugar and vanilla when you can infuse your cherry filling with cherry vanilla soda instead? Not me.
What you do need is a good pie crust, and for that let’s stick with the traditional stuff like Martha Stewart’s Paté Brisée. Use any crust you like, but I urge you to give her recipe a try if you haven’t already. Once you see how easy, tasty and flaky it is, you’ll never go back to buying the pre-made stuff. I promise.
I’m quite proud of the little heart cutouts, but a little less proud of the color of the pie. I baked this in a bit of a rush on Saturday morning before we left for the lake, and took it out of the oven a bit prematurely. It doesn’t have that full golden color that I love, but in the end (i.e., in our bellies), the lacking pigment didn’t matter. The pie was fully cooked and quite scrumptious, if I say so myself.
We’ll let the color slide this time just as I hope we can all forgive me for having pale and pasty legs. Summer’s not here yet.
But we can sure pretend it is with this Cherry Vanilla Pie, the first of many.
Also, have you noticed an improvement in my pictures? Maybe just a little? I ask, because I’m the proud new owner of a Canon Rebel T5i, an early graduation present from Mom and Dad. Thanks, guys! I’m counting down the days until I can thank them in person. Get here soon, Thursday. Pretty please with a cherry on top.
- 1 unbaked double pie crust recipe
- 5 cups pitted sweet cherries
- 1 cup cherry vanilla creme soda
- ¼ to ½ cup sugar to taste
- 4 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1½ tablespoon butter to dot
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 egg yolk
- Roll out one of the pie crusts and transfer to a pie dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, cherry vanilla soda, ¼ cup sugar, corn starch, lemon juice and almond extract. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently letting the mixture thicken. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed. Set cherry pie filling aside for a few minutes to cool.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Once cherry pie filling has cooled, remove the pie dish from the fridge and pour filling into the crust. Dot with butter.
- Roll out the second pie crust and cut out strips or shapes, whatever you like. Cover the pie, seal top and bottom crusts, trim any excess dough and crimp edges.
- Whisk together egg yolk and cold water. Brush pie crust with egg wash.
- Bake pie on a rimmed baking sheet for 30 minutes.
- Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, rotate pie, and bake for 35 to 45 additional minutes, or until the crust is nicely golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.