We are still making the most of the stone fruit season here and these big black cherries were so juicy and sweet they were almost too good to put in a pie, well almost!
Pitting cherries is always a messy business even with a cherry stoner, but there is something quite satisying when you fire the stones out of the cherries once you get going. Anyone else eat the little circles of cherry that come out attached to the stones, no, me neither!
I must admit that I did cheat and used not only puff pastry from the supermarket, but the ready rolled stuff too. The all-butter puff pastry you can get is really very good and so much easier than making it yourself.
The pies themselves are really simple, with not too many ingredients. The buttery, flaky layers and super sweet juicy cherries make for a perfect summer baked treat and would be a welcome addition to any picnic.
Now the heatwave has released its grip on us (for now anyway) the oven can come back on!
2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry, or you can buy the blocks and roll yourself, or of course home made would be best! Keep refrigerated until ready to use
1 large punnet of black cherries – I bought a 500g pack
1 small lemon
1/4 cup sugar – use a little more if the cherries are very tart
1tbs corn flour/starch
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract (optional)
1 egg and a little milk to make a wash
Demerara/Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Place the pitted and halved cherries into a pan with the sugar, juice from the lemon, corn flour and the extracts. Stir everything together to combine.
At this point, you could mix the lemon juice and corn flour separately and then add, but I’ve never had any lumps just adding everything in together.
Heat the cherry mixture gently and stir everything together, taking care not to break up the fruit. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cooks.
Cook on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until the cherries soften a little and the juices are thickened.
Leave the pie filling to cool and then place in the refrigerater until cold. You can’t add hot pie filling to a cold crust as bad things will happen to the pastry.
Place the chilled, rolled out pastry on a lightly floured board and cut out circles – I got enough for 8 bases from one sheet and the 8 lids on the next sheet. Whatever size cutter you go for, just make sure you have an even number, otherwise one of them might have to become a tart!
Place the pie bases onto a lined baking sheet and add a spoonful of the cherry pie filling into the centre of each circle, taking care to leave an edge.
Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the pastry lid onto each pie.
Crimp the edges together with a fork, making sure you have a good seal. I keep a little pile of flour ready when I do this, so I can keep dipping the fork in to stop it sticking to the pastry as it will be warming up a little by now.
You need to refrigerate the pies for 30 minuites to allow everything to relax. You can also freeze them at this point too.
When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F
Brush the pies with the egg wash and make a few slits in each pie to let the steam out. Finally, sprinkle over a little of the sugar.
Bake for around 20 minutes. The pies will puff up and go a lovely golden brown colour when they are ready.
Leave them to cool a little before allowing anyone to sample them as the filling will be very hot!
They are just the best when still warm and crisp, but good cold too.