‘No one does fruit pies quite like our cousins across the pond. When I lived in North America, I ate more than my fair share of pie. I couldn’t pass a bakery or coffee shop without being lured in by golden sugared crusts spilling with bubbling, sweet fruit fillings. This is my version of the ubiquitous cherry pie. I use a small heart- shaped cookie cutter to make holes in the top crust, and it always goes down a storm. Eat it for afters with a mug of ‘joe’, like in Twin Peaks.’ - Rosie Birkett
for the pastry
2 tbsp granulated sugar
260g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
40g ground almonds pinch of salt
180g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp demerara sugar, for sprinkling
for the filling
100g good-quality black cherry jam
1 tbsp cherry brandy, kirsch or amaretto (optional)
1⁄2 tsp grated nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp cold water
500g fresh black or red cherries, pitted and halved
1 For the pastry, put the sugar, flour, ground almonds, salt and butter in a food processor, and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add 3 tbsp of the egg and 2 tbsp of ice-cold water, and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough.
2 Divide the dough into two, flatten each portion into discs, wrap each disc in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
3 Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/400F and grease a 24cm pie dish. Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a floured work surface to 3mm thick and about 2cm wider than the dish. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes. Repeat this with the remaining disc of pastry.
4 Heat the jam for the filling in a saucepan with 100ml water, the alcohol (if using), nutmeg and the vanilla extract. When it’s all melted together, add the diluted cornflour, and stir together until smooth and thickened. Add the cherries and gently coat them in the mixture, being careful not to mush them up. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5 Using a floured rolling pin, transfer one of the chilled pastry sheets to the greased pie dish and drape it across
the dish. Let it sink into the dish, and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way round, to line it. Trim off any excess pastry, and lightly prick the base with a fork. Fill the dish with the cherry filling. Use a pastry cutter to cut holes in the remaining pastry sheet, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of the pie dish, leaving a large border intact. Place it
over the pie filling, and fold the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust, crimping it together with your fingers to seal.
6 Brush the pastry with the remains of the beaten egg and sprinkle over the demerara sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden, and then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/Fan 160C/350F, covering the top of the pastry with foil if need be, and bake for a further 35–40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden and firm. Allow to cool and serve with cream.
Rosie Birkett is a food writer, food stylist and home cook living in Hackney, east London. Her book, A Lot On Her Plate (Hardie Grant) speaks of her love of a good meal and enthusiasm for food generally.