Cherry Almond Pie

The other day I was doing my grocery shopping at the grocery store—which is where I get my groceries done—and I said to myself, “Self, you really need easier recipes on your site.” Or maybe it was at the library? It could have been at the laundromat while I was waiting for my clothes to finish drying. I don’t remember. Anyhow, I was at the laundromat-grocery store-library and I thought, “Self, what people really need are more classic recipes. Simple dishes that they can relate to and can easily make on the daily. You need more of that on your blog.” Actually, it was definitely while I was standing in line at the bank. Or was it when I was pumping gas? No it wasn’t at the gas station because while I was standing at the pump, staring at my car, I remember thinking to myself, “Self, you really need to get your car washed. Boy is it filthy.”

So that simple recipe revelation had to have come to me while I was at home on the couch watching TV avoiding the gym. It’s what I do best, second to eating of course. Maybe it was when I was at the post office dropping off mail when I said “Self, you know what? People really love pie, maybe you should do a pie post.” People turned to look at me talking to myself about pie. Rude. I think it was while I was sitting in my car, though, in completely stopped traffic—the only kind of traffic in LA—where I responded, “Self, you really love pie. I think you just want an excuse to make pie!” Perhaps I was right and all I really wanted at that moment was a giant slice of pie, with an enormous scoop of ice cream, because we all know that’s the only way to eat pie and don’t let anyone else tell you different. So bottom line is we all have my craving for pie to thank for this post.

Then came the dilemma of what kind of pie to make and shoot and share and post. I started going through all the options, keeping in mind the conversation I had with myself. I threw words around like simple and classic. “Self, what if you make an apple pie? That’s a classic pie that everyone knows and loves.” That didn’t pan out so well as I quickly realized it’s late July about to be August, and apples aren’t really in season yet. So then I woke up one night in a cold sweat and yelled out, “Self! By George, pumpkin pie it is!” But do you want to know something crazy and unfathomable? There are no pumpkins to be found anywhere! What madness is this? So then I said to myself, “Self, what about cherry pie with an almond crust?” Cue the distant harp music and directional light from the sky. Everything in the world made sense and didn’t at the same time. It was a genius plan and one I was super excited about. I even told myself what a genius I was for coming up with that idea. “Boy, you really are a genius Jonathan. How do you come up with these things? I’m really excited to make this. You’re the best.” It was a short one-sided conversation to say the least.

And that my friends is the story of how I came to make this pie.

I could go on and on about how much I love pie crust and how it’s the best part of any and all pies. I could talk your ear off about how the world would be an empty and sad place if whoever invented pie crust had never invented it. Sure I could do all those things, and then some, but I think I’ll let the pie crust speak for itself. If it could talk it would go something like this.

Oh hey, yeah I’m pie crust. I’m flaky, buttery and delicious and everyone loves me.

I’m badass and no one can stop me. I’m the most popular thing in the word and no, I don’t mind it at all. I’ve learned to accept it. I have to fend off crazy fans on the daily, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many movie deals I decline on a regular basis.

Butter and I are best friends because butter makes me super moist and flaky and irresistible. I owe my life to butter.

If you ask me, I think pie crust knows it’s stuff.

You can make this with an electric mixer, in a food processor or by hand. Guess what I’m making it with? By hand!

Sike! I tricked you! Of course I’m not making this by hand, what am I in the 19th century?

I like to make pie dough in a food processor. It gets the job done and it gets it done well, I might add.

Start by throwing in the flours, we’re using all-purpose flour and almond flour because this is an almond crust after all. Most supermarkets now carry almond flour or almond meal in the baking aisle. If you can’t find any, then you aren’t looking right and I think you should try harder, but you can just grind almonds in a food processor until it resembles coarse flour. Or you can omit the almond flour and replace it for more all-purpouse flour if you’d prefer.

 

Also add the salt and sugar. It’s just a bit of each to help flavor the crust.

 

Pulse for a few seconds until everything is well combined.

Then add the diced unsalted butter.

**Note: Make sure the butter is very very cold before adding it to the dry ingredients. It is crucial for the butter to be cold so that it can help the crust get nice and flakey for us while it bakes. I like to dice the butter and then pop it in the freezer while I get the rest of the ingredients ready. Feel free to take my tip and use it, free of charge. You’re welcome.**

Pulse about 8 to 10 times or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, the size of peas. You don’t want to breakdown the butter too much. It’s better if it’s slightly chunkier than have it be pulverized completely.

Can you see all those chunks of butter goodness up there? That, that my friends, is what makes all the difference between an oh-my-gosh-that’s-amazing crust and an-eh-that’s-alright crust. You definitely want the oh-my-gosh-that’s-amazing crust. Believe me you do.

Because this is an almond crust and because I really want to hone in on that pure almond flavor, we’re going to add a touch of almond extract.

And we’ll then add 5 tablespoons of ice cold water.

**Tip: I pour water into a glass and fill it with ice. Then I let it sit there for a bit while the water chills. Then I add the ice cold water to the crust right before mixing.**

**Note: After 5 tablespoons of water, if the crust doesn’t come together and appears dry still, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the crust comes together. Remember, you can always add more but you can never take any back.**

 

Pulse the mixture until just just JUST combined. Do not over mix. If you do, I’ll totally go over there and throw your dough on the floor. I’m not even kidding.

Okay, maybe I am.

But am I really?

Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. This will make the combining process easier without all the mess.

Bring the dough together into a large ball or disc. Try to work rather fast so you don’t melt the butter with the warmth of your paws. Your hand heat is crusts’ worst enemy. Be advised. You’ve been warned.

Then divide the dough in half and wrap each piece individually with plastic wrap.

Place the dough in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 1 hour. You can make the pie crust up to 2 days in advance. Allow it to come to room temperature before rolling it out though.

Let’s turn our attention now to the filling but I mean come on, we could just wrap up this post right here and now and call it a day. The pie dough was sufficiently exciting and delicious for 1 post, no? Oh you want me to continue? Okay then fine suit yourself.

So since this is an apple pie we need apples. Tons of apples. Fresh apples for this delicious pie. Wait, we’re not making apple pie? I’m on the wrong channel here. I was just testing you, making sure you’re still with me. Gotcha!

Since we’re making cherry pie we’re going to need cherries. Tons of cherries. Fresh cherries for this delicious pie.

The best part about cherries is their flavor, duh. They’re delicious! The worst thing about cherries is that they have seeds. Sad face. One giant seed in the middle of each cherry. Super sad face. You mean I can’t just shovel cherries in my mouth and eat them as fast as I can?

So here comes the worst part of this entire process, the pitting process. If you have one of those fancy schmancy cherry pitters, well then you’re better off than I am. I hate your evil witchcraft ways. Be gone.

No but really, if you have one of those you’re lucky and I envy you. I’m sort of jealous. Okay okay, I’m a lot jealous. There I said it.  I had to pit each one of these cherries by hand and let me tell you friends, it wasn’t easy. But it was fun. Sort of. Not really. If you asked me right after the hour it took me to do it, I would have snapped and told you that I hate the world. But now, looking back, it was actually fun. Sure cherry juice was flying everywhere and my kitchen resembled a crime scene with blood splattered everywhere. But hey, it was fun nonetheless.

Not fun. Cherry juice all over my face. Not fun. Realizing said juice was on my face until the end of the day at dinner with people staring at me. What? What are you staring at?!

I googled “how to pit cherries without a pitter” and many people suggested I use a straw, so I did! And it totally worked!! I was so excited about it too. Until it no longer worked. Then I wasn’t excited anymore. In fact I was angry. The straw kept bending and eventually I got so tired of it I just through it out the window. Stupid straw. You ruined my life.

 

Needless to say I managed to pit all the cherries with minimal amount of tears. Maybe a few tantrums here and there.

Let’s combine the granulated sugar together with the cornstarch and salt.

**Tip: Taste a cherry, and if you find them to be too sour then add the full amount of sugar listed in the recipe (down below). If the cherries are pleasantly sweet, reduce the sugar by as much as ¼ cup or ½ cup, depending on your taste preference.**

   

Combine the three ingredients together with a wooden spoon or whisk and then pour it over the cherries that you pitted so nicely and perfectly. Try not to think about how you wanted to pull out your hair halfway through that process. Only look forward to the finished pie. Think about eating the pie.

  

Final two ingredients to the filling are lemon juice—juice from like a real fresh lemon, no bottled stuff here—and vanilla extract.

 

That’s all I wrote, so go ahead and gently stir the filling together. I say gently, not because this is a masterpiece you need to handle with care—although it totally is so please handle with care—but because you want the cherries to remain somewhat whole. You don’t want to break them down too much with the spoon and have it be mush. Cherry mush = no good.

  

  

Okay there you go, that takes care of the filling. But who cares about that when we have more important things to worry about, like the crust. That definitely is more important.

More important. Golden brown crust. More important. Crispy flaky buttery golden-y crust. Definitely more important. Crust in my mouth.

Lightly flour a work surface. Things are about to get serious yo.

 

Allow the pie dough to soften so that it’s easier to roll out. I’m not saying to completely let it get down to room temperature, so don’t get carried away. I just mean like take it out of the fridge about 5 minutes before the rolling step.

Roll out one of the dough discs into a large circle about ¼ of an inch thick. It should be wide enough to fit a 9-inch pie plate.

Carefully transfer the rolled dough onto said plate.

Some people like to trim the overhang of dough. I look at those people and call them crazy. Why waste perfectly good dough crazies? So what I like to do—which is the smartest thing to do In my humble opinion—is to tuck the dough under, creating a thicker edge of crust. Do you know what that means? It means more crust for us! MORE CRUST! FOR US!!

 

See what I did up there? I just folded that extra hanging dough crust under itself. Then I patted the edges to make sure it looks smooth and perfect. Magic.

This is where the crust meets the filling. It’s the part where they’re joined in holy matrimony. Awwww.

Spoon that filling in.

The reason I’m having you spoon the filling in as opposed to just dumping it all in straight from the bowl is to make you work more. You’re lucky I didn’t say, put one cherry in at a time. I could have said that but I didn’t. The real reason for spooning it in, is so you can avoid adding all the juice that has accumulated in the bowl.

**Note: You don’t want to add all that juice (below) to the pie as that will cause the pie juices to overflow during baking and it will ooze out from the top, making your crust soggy. That would be bad. Bad soggy crust, bad.**

Once all the cherries have been added and some of the juice has not, you can set the pie aside. Later on you might notice more juice accumulating inside of the pie, you can spoon that out before adding the top crust so don’t worry about it until then.

But Jonathan by removing most of the liquid, my pie is going to be dry!

No, no it’s not. The cherries will let out more juice, I promise. Cross my heart and kiss my elbow.

Lightly flour your work surface again and place the second dough disc on it.

Roll out the dough in the same manner as you did the first half.

Trim the very edge of the dough to form a more smooth circle. I know before I said don’t trim it, but that was before and now I’m saying trim it, so trim it.

Slice the dough into 10 (sort of) even strips of dough. We’re going to make a lattice top crust so we need strips of dough in order to achieve that fancy look and presentation.

You can grab a ruler and measure out the strips to make sure they are indeed even, if you want your pie to look like it was made by a Stepford wife. You can even use one of those fancy crimped edged rollers to cut the strips. Sure you can show off with those things but who wants a perfect pie anyhow? I like it when they look rustic. (Of course I’m just saying this because I was too lazy to whip out the ruler and I don’t even own one of those fancy dough roller cutter things. Gee thanks for making me feel bad. Gosh.)

Mine looks real. Homemade real.

That’s real pie crust strips my friends, not perfectly fake looking crust strips.

Here’s the kicker, plot twist: I don’t know how to lattice a pie. Prior to this huge pie event I never latticed a pie. What?! Who am I right now? I know I know, I’ve disappointed you all. So what did I do? (Thank you so much for asking) I did what any other great human being would do presented with the same situation, I googled that shit. (Sorry mom).

I found a youtube video and got lost for hours, learning how to perfectly lattice a pie crust, and do you want to know something? It’s actually not that hard. After a while it made perfect sense.

That’s me totally youtubing as I bake. Everyone does that right?

The video instructed me (yes only me) to first lay down three strips going in one direction. And then it told me to weave in one piece going in the opposite direction. What? Huh??

 

You kind of have to lift some of the pieces and create sort of like a basket weave pattern. Does that make sense? I’m trying to describe it for you all so you can understand it and yet I think I’m just confusing you. So instead of continuing to explain, I’ll just show you the finished product.

You can trim some of those long strips and tuck the strips under the bottom crust.

 

Then you can use your hands and all of your creative pie powers to crimp the edges into a fancy but not too schmancy crimped edge. Not only does this make the pie look great (or at least better than it was before) it also seals the edges and prevents (somewhat) the juices from overflowing while baking.

There, you’re done. Stop touching the pie. Stand back and admire your hard work. We went through all that trouble of youtubing the lattice top and we even crimped it like no tomorrow. For this we deserve a pie making award. Like a blue ribbon or something.

Okay that’s enough. Let’s not stare at it too long as then you’ll start seeing all the things wrong with it. We can’t have that. My ego can’t have that.

Crack an egg into a small dish or bowl and add a splash of water. Whisk it together and guess what, you’ve just made an egg wash. Brush the entire top and edge of the pie with the egg wash. This helps the pie get a beautiful golden brown color.

  

The egg also allows the sugar topping to stick to the pie. Sprinkle the top with either granulated sugar or turbinado sugar (that sugar in the raw stuff). You know you have some of those packets at the bottom of your bag or stuffed somewhere in a drawer from your local coffee shop. I don’t condone stealing but if you need to then go to that coffee shop and swipe some sugar in the raw packets for this because it makes the pie look really awesome and professional.

 

And with that said, your pie is assembled and ready to stick in the oven.

Place the pie onto a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, this is so that it catches any dripping pie juice and it won’t create a smokey disaster in your kitchen. I’m not admitting that this happens to me all the time, but I’m also not denying it.

Cover the edges of the pie with foil, leaving the center exposed. This is so that the edges don’t get too browned before the pie is done. That tends to happen with most pies so let’s prevent it. 15 before the pie is done, you can remove the foil and finish baking the edges.

Once the pie is golden brown and it looks like the best pie you’ve ever made, well then, it’s done. You can remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.

Place the pie on a wire rack by the window and sing some tunes while you and all the cute animals from the woods, help you clean the house. That’s what’s supposed to happen right?

You want to make sure the pie is cooled before cutting into it.

 

There was one vital lesson I learned as a child. One lesson that I still abide by to this day. And that is to never, ever ever, say no to anything á la mode. Someone offers you a cookie you say, yes please á la mode. Someone wants you to eat a brownie, you take it happily and ask for it á la mode. It’s someone’s birthday? You cut that cake before anyone can get to it and demand it to be á la mode.

What is á la mode? It just means served with ice cream and I think pie is best served with ice cream.

I sometimes get lost in wanting to create recipes that have a lot of depth and flavor. I brainstorm recipes that mash up ingredients you normally wouldn’t think go together. Like bourbon blueberry basil doughnuts. Or how about banana raspberry swirl crumb cake. I get too busy thinking of “out there” recipes that I sometimes forget all it takes are two simple ingredients to make something perfectly delicious. Take peanut butter and jelly for instance. They’re amazing together. Or salt and pepper. Chicken and waffles, the apple of my eye.

Well that’s how I feel about cherries and almonds. I think the two are meant to be together forever. And ever. And ever. Ever.

 

Sure individually they have rock star flavors all on their own, but mash them together and you get an explosion of deliciousness. I’m obsessed with this combination.  I wish I could bathe in cherry almond [whatever] everyday, or at least slather it all over my body. Is that okay? Who knows. Well, actually I know because I sort of already do that. My favorite lotion is Jergens cherry almond moisturizer. No, this isn’t a plug-in for Jergens lotion just so I can get an unlimited supply for free or something. Although, how cool would that be? I’ll take some free stuff any day. Jergens if you’re reading this I want free lotion. Hint hint.

I’m all about multi-purposing recipes. And I think this filling would be perfectly swirled into homemade ice cream. Take any simple vanilla ice cream recipe and make it like it states. Pour it into the machine and churn it. Right before the ice cream is done, add this filling and continue to churn until the cherries are mixed in and the ice cream is a light maroon/purple color. BOOM, black cherry ice cream. Move over Thrifty’s.

I know I say this all the time, especially after I finish each post, but I really love this post. It’s my new favorite. And it’s not because the pie was delicious and amazing—although that is a big part of it—it’s because of the images themselves. These last couple of images and the very first one get me really happy and excited. I sometimes take my work for granted and end up just liking them. Every once in a while I’ll surprise myself and really fall in love with a set of images. These images I fell in love with. I hope you enjoy them as well and I also hope you give this classic pie a try. After all, I did go a little crazy talking to myself at the grocery store library gas station post office, thinking it up. So you owe me one.

Comments

  1. avatarChristina says

    I learned this handy trick from The Gouda Life blog: Get an empty beer bottle and a chopstick. Place the cherry on the bottle opening and push the pit out with the chopstick. Works like a charm and changed my life.

  2. avatar says

    Your recipes are always lovely, whether they’re a classic pie or something totally new and wild! This pie looks particularly lovely. I know all about cherry juice getting everywhere, but it’s definitely worth it once the pie comes out of the oven. Yum!

  3. avatar says

    Love the almond in the crust.. I don’t think I’ve ever made a cherry pie, because the idea of pitting enough cherries makes me want to cry. Although I do have metal straws (hate plastic!), so I might have to give that tecnique a try. Beautiful pictures as always!

  4. avatar says

    Ahhh. This crust is beautiful. This pie is beautiful. Everything about this is beautiful.
    I’m totally pinning this. And bookmarking. I can definitely see myself making this sometime in the future. I pitted and froze a whole bunch of fresh cherries that I’m conspiring to use in something gorgeous like this.
    I could never possibly crack open a can of cherry pie filling again. xD

  5. avatarJennifer says

    I’m new to your site and I love it. I’m sure this question has been asked and answered,although I can’t find it.But what kind of. Camera do you use.

  6. avatarMariam says

    This is such a gorgeous post! I’m tempted to make pie now! Cherries aren’t exactly in season at my side of the world so it’ll have to wait! Love the detailed instructions with a photo (I’m no pie expert)

  7. avatar says

    I just stumbled across your blog and got completely sidetracked (from the google search that somehow led me here) by your mesmerizing photography and writing. I love everything you’ve got going on here. And from one pie lover to another, well done!

  8. avatarLiz says

    Hi Jonathan, i made this gorgoeus pie today. My first ever cherry pie and it was amazing. (They’re not a big thing in Australia.) Almost 100 degrees in Sydney today so the pastry was a challenge!! Had to roll quickly and flash freeze to keep it together, but it worked just fine. Thank you for the tip about adding less sugar to the cherry mixture – I added about half what was in the recipe, and it was certainly sweet enough for us.
    And to Christina for the chopstick-pit-trick – thank you so much!
    Rave reviews from the table, so thank you. Will definitely make again next summer.
    Best wishes to you. Blog on, my friend!

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