Ah, summer. Among many other things, summer means berries to me. I love all berries. Why the universe decided to concentrate all of them into a few months during the years is beyond me. The fact that we can’t have fresh berries all year long seems very unfair. In our family, we do try to take advantage of the fresh berry season by eating as many as we can and then freezing many more. And, of course, I’m a canner–so I’m always preserving some via the canning kettle.
Cherries aren’t really berries, but I think of them as such. They are a fruit/berry I haven’t done much with in the past. I think I have too many early memories of cherry cough syrup and neon-maraschino-cherries-that-seemed-to-come-from-another-planet on top of my hot fudge sundaes. To be honest, I’ve never really had the urge to bake with them until this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat them fresh. But putting them into baked goods always seems like it would immediately turn them into mucilage.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine gave me a bag of fresh cherries that she got from an eastern Washington cherry tour. I took it home and had the urge to bake a cherry pie. I thought I’d finally try it, just to see what it would be like. And boy was I surprised–it was one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten! Wow. I couldn’t wait to make another one and then another one. The whole family loves this pie. And being a berry pie, it lends itself to an open crust–like a lattice crust. Or, you can cut out your favorite shapes with a cookie cutter and cover the top with them (like I did with these stars). Very Martha Stewart, don’t you think?
This is probably one of the easiest pies you will ever make. Seriously, it is easy-peasy (my new term). And it the filling is simple and delicious. I use sweet cherries–but you could use sour cherries. I would increase the amount of sugar if you do this.
Cherry Pie, Gluten-Free
Special Equipment Needed
-9-10 inch pie pan (I prefer glass or ceramic pie pans–I think they make the flakiest crusts)
-cherry pitter–makes pitting the cherries go much faster (optional)
-cookie cutter (for the crust in the photo, I used a 3″ star cookie cutter)
Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place):
1 1/4 C (170g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205g) white rice flour
1 C (120g) tapioca flour
1 C (165g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
–inspired by Williams-Sonoma Pies and Tarts
2 lbs (910g; 6 C) fresh, sweet cherries, washed and pitted (you can also do 1/2 sweet and 1/2 sour cherries)
3/4 C (145g) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBL Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
For the Crust
2 1/3 C (330g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 TBL granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C (8oz; 230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces (you can also use lard, shortening, or margarine)
1 TBL vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
5-7 TBL cold water
extra tapioca flour for rolling out dough
To make the filling
Place the pitted cherries in a large bowl. Add sugar and salt and mix to combine. Add the flour and mix just to combine. Set aside at room temperature while you make your crust.
To make the crust
Place flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Mix together with a spoon until combined. Add butter pieces to the dry ingredients mixture. With fingers, start rubbing together the butter and the dry ingredients. This will take some time. Do this until the resulting mixture looks like wet sand mixed with pebbles. I like to do this method to get a feel for the dough, but you are welcome to use the food processor for this initial mix if you like that method better.
Add the vinegar and rub into the mixture. Add water a TBL at a time, rubbing into the mixture. You want to add enough to create a dough that holds together well, but isn’t wet. During the winter here in Seattle I used about 6 TBL on a consistent basis. During the summer I use closer to 5 TBL.
Divide the dough into two fairly equal pieces, shape into disks, and wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks for 20-30 minutes (or until the disks are cool and firm but not hard).
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C/gas mark 7.
Prepare your rolling surface. Sprinkle tapioca flour over your work surface–be sure it is well-covered. Also sprinkle flour over your rolling pin. When the disks have firmed up (after about 20-30 minutes), remove the first disk of dough from the fridge and place on your prepared work surface and sprinkle top of dough with tapioca flour. The key to successfully rolling out gluten-free pie dough is to go slow. When I say slow, I mean SLOW. And with a light touch. If your dough starts cracking, slow down and don’t press so hard with your rolling pin. With your rolling pin, carefully and patiently roll out the dough into a 12″ circle (it should be at least 3″ larger than the top of your pie pan). If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, add more tapioca flour.
NOTE: You can also roll the dough out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.
NOTE: the dough should be cool but not too cold. It should roll fairly easily and should not break while you’re rolling it. Don’t worry if it breaks a bit–just smooth the dough over the break point. If it seems too cold and you’re really having to work hard to roll it, step back and let it warm up a little bit before you continue. Alternately, if the dough is floppy and seems to be “sweating,” it is too warm and should be refrigerated for awhile longer.
In the next step, you are going to roll the dough around the rolling pin in order to transport it to the pie pan. In order to do this, sprinkle tapioca flour over the entire surface of the pie crust dough. Now, put the rolling pin on top of one side of the dough. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin until you’ve gotten all of the dough onto the pin. The dough should roll easily around the pin without breaking. Again, go very slowly. Seriously. Slow and steady wins the pie crust race. But, if it breaks a bit, don’t worry–it is easy to fix by pressing the dough together at the break point(s).
Lift the pin with the dough rolled around it and place it on the top of your pie pan. Unwrap the dough from your rolling pin onto the pie pan so the pan is covered evenly. Now carefully press your dough into place. Proceed slowly, starting with the middle bottom of the pie pan and working out to bottom corners and then up the sides.
NOTE: For more detailed information on how to handle the crust, please see my pie crust post.
Pour filling into dough-lined pan and place the filled pie pan into the refrigerator while you’re working on your top dough. To make a star-covered top like that in the photo: roll out the second disk of dough until it’s about 1/8-1/4″ thick. With your cookie cutter, cut out as many stars as you can. If you don’t have enough to cover the top of the pie with gaps in between, quickly re-roll out your dough and cut more stars. What you want to do is provide enough cover to act as a topping, but leave enough spaces in between the dough shapes so that the filling can vent. Be creative–this is fun! Place the stars on top of the filling in a decorative manner. Be sure some of them touch the sides of the pie pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes (until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling). Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
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