I've been terribly fond of cherries all of my life and consider myself fortunate to have been able to devour many a bowlful (with gusto, I might add) over the last five decades!
Regular readers of Good Things will know that Peter and I indulged in a cherry adventure in Young, New South Wales during the weekend of the annual Cherry Festival. Australian growers had reported a bumper season and I was keen for Peter to experience cherry picking, a delicious pastime that I'd shared with my children when they were little. Needless to say, Peter loved it too! Despite having a bellyful of cherries and cherry wine, we were also on the hunt for a really good cherry pie.
We drove up and down the highway, stopping for a look at a number of road side stalls advertising cherry pies and, after a time, decided on two beautifully decorated little pies from a stall that shall remain nameless. Peter and I were like a pair of excited kiddies with sweets, and even made a celebration out of sitting down to eating the said pies. But, they were so disappointing! One bite revealed a hard, bland pastry case with four or five lonely little cherries rolling around inside the shell like marbles. It was a double take moment for both of us... and, as French chef, Manu Feildel, would say, 'Where's the sauce!!?'.
Fortunately, we had picked about seven kilograms of cherries between us (some of which we ate fresh from the hand when we got back home; and a good portion were gifted to my daughter). I pitted and preserved the remaining four or so kilograms, following instructions given to me by Adriana, the owner of the B&B that we stayed at. Adriana explained that cherries preserved this way would freeze successfully, and indeed they have. This mixture also makes the perfect filling for cherry pie and a beautiful topper for vanilla bean ice cream too.
The Australian cherry season is coming to an end, but there is still some good sized fruit available, hence I am sharing this recipe with you. For readers in the northern hemisphere, your season will commence soon. Please, bookmark and enjoy.
2kg pitted cherries
1 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
Spread the pitted cherries into a non-stick pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Simmer over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the cherries release their juice. Try not to overcook the cherries. Cook them until the fruit is tender, but still whole, as you can see from my pictures. Allow to cool. Ladle into airtight freezer safe containers and snap freeze. Defrost as you are ready to use.
For the pie, you need about 435-450g of shortcrust pastry (here I used vanilla bean sweet shortcrust pastry from Careme in the Barossa Valley), 500g of preserved pitted cherry mixture and 1/2 to 1 cup of rice crumbs (you could use almond meal instead). Chill the pastry, then roll it out and line the base and sides of your pie dish, allowing more pastry at the sides (for shrinkage). Then chill the pastry in the pie dish again, as this will help it to keep its shape. Blind bake the pastry until it is golden (see link and my picture), then spread the rice crumbs evenly over the base, followed by the cherry preserves. Cover with a latticed top (see pictures) and brush with a little milk. Bake in the preheated oven at 180 degrees C until the lattice top is golden (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool. Serve sliced and dusted with icing sugar.
The process in pictures...
Perhaps not the prettiest cherry pie, but it sure tasted good!
Have you ever been cherry picking? Do you bake cherry pie? Tell me about your experiences.
13/2/2013 12:41:49 am
Looks scrumptious Liz. Lovely that you've been able to stretch out your supply of cherries by preserving them.
13/2/2013 05:50:58 am
Thanks Christine. In all honesty, I wish I'd preserved more. They are delicious this way. Did you try any of the cherry pies out there?
13/2/2013 08:02:01 am
I love rustic fruit desserts, what a pretty pie!
15/2/2013 11:37:21 am
Thank you Laura, so kind. I say rustic, as my pastry skills are not as polished as they might be. Some day...
13/2/2013 08:20:33 am
I think it looks gorgeous- and scrumptious too Lizzie! I made a couple of cherry cobblers for the freezer instead of pies, but they were still yummy :)
15/2/2013 11:37:39 am
Thank you Bec... very kind. Cobblers sound yummy!
15/2/2013 11:38:00 am
Thanks Amanda.... I hope you do, they are sooooooooo yummy!
13/2/2013 01:47:16 pm
Oh Lizzy, that cherry pie looks absolutley delicious!! I am going to have to get some cherries this weekend to preserve, so I don't miss out!! Capture that little bit of summer yumminess!
15/2/2013 11:38:21 am
Indeed, Mrs M. Isn't that one of the joys of preserving/freezing!
13/2/2013 10:39:40 pm
Thanks for this preserving recipe. Indeed we will have our turn at cherry season fairly soon. In the meantime I occasionally indulge in a bag of imported cherries, although the cashier always says something along the lines of "did you realise these are £xx a kilo"? I tell them I don't have many vices but cherries is one of them.
15/2/2013 11:39:00 am
That happens here too, Kellie. I think cherries are around $11 a kg now. When we picked them, I think we paid $6 from memory.
15/2/2013 11:09:51 am
Gorgeous cherry pie Liz! And the cherry preserves sound great too!
15/2/2013 11:39:19 am
Thank you, Peter, you are a sweetie. The preserves are THE BEST.
16/2/2013 04:34:17 pm
I've become quite obsessed with cherries this year - they've been fantastic. Your recipe sounds great and I'm going to it as I've been looking for a recipe where the cherries remain a bit sticky but not too jammy. In the meantime, I've made my first batches of Maraschino Cherries - the REAL ones - and I'm impressed. Great with gelato or custard or in a semifreddo. The recipe's at bottom of my blogpost: http://ambradambra.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/its-all-about-the-cup-of-cino/
16/2/2013 05:42:37 pm
Hello there! The cherries have indeed been great this year! The recipe is excellent and it's thanks to the lady we stayed with. Ooooh, I think your maraschino cherries look divine! Thank you for sharing!
18/2/2013 03:01:37 pm
Growing up cherries was decidedly not my favorite fruit...not when there were strawberries or better yet, raspberries to be had, but now they are top of my list, particuarly for how well they work in both sweet and savory dishes. This pie looks spectacular. YUM!
24/2/2013 06:25:13 am
Interesting! Cherries are great in both sweet and savoury, aren't they! Thank you for stopping by.
5/12/2015 06:37:03 pm
Again you have inspired me Liz, I have cherries in my kitchen bought from a local orchard, I know what I'm going to do this afternoon! And yes, have decided to make it to the Young Cherry festival this year after procrastinating for all the time we have lived in the central west xxx
5/12/2015 06:49:24 pm
Awesome Andrea, thanks for the lovely feedback! The Festival is on now, no?
6/12/2015 01:54:41 am
I have been doing things with cherries also and had 2 laden cherry trees in the garden.
6/12/2015 01:56:13 am
Oh Lenore, that sounds wonderful..... I'm so sorry to hear that you have been unwell, my friend. Do take care and get well soon. Much love Liz xx
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Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.