Nigella Lawson's Cherry Pie

9/17/2017 10:09:00 PM

Cherry Pie

Hello hello! I'm thrilled today to be telling you about what has become my favourite and most often-baked dessert - Nigella Lawson's cherry pie.

Cherry Pie

I've never really had a "go-to" dessert - I normally use gatherings like dinner parties, birthdays, and barbecues as an excuse to try out new recipes. However, over the past year I've found myself coming back again and again to Nigella's fabulous cherry pie. The ridiculously short, crisp, buttery pastry, crumbling into the sour cherries as you attack it with a cream-lined spoon. Heaven! It's become my default dessert when having people over, and for some reason, it goes particularly well after roast duck.

Slice of cherry pie

The recipe is from How to Eat, and I first made it eleven years ago, during my How to Eat Project. The pastry is a very rich shortcrust (2 egg yolks!), and the filling is simply a jar of morello sour cherries, with a little sugar, melted butter and cherry juice. I always add a spoonful of almond meal, to help prevent soggy pastry, and for general nutty deliciousness. (Either sprinkled on the nude pastry base or mixed through the sugar/butter/cherry juice mixture).

Cherry pie filling

Cherry pie insides


The pastry is really wonderful - so crisp and buttery, and I often use it for other pies (e.g. apple pieSarah's Ultimate Apple Pie, Cherry and Apple Pie). I always eschew Nigella's processor method for pastry, preferring to mix it by hand. (Dragging out the processor and washing it is always harder work than rubbing a little butter into some flour). This way, there's also much less chance of overworking the dough and making it tough. Of course, the more you work the dough, the more you develop the gluten, making the dough smoother and easier to roll out. However, you do sacrifice the crisp and short texture. (Which I would never want to do!) Besides, even if the dough breaks up on you as you're trying to roll it out, I've always found it turns out just fine if you just press the dough pieces into the tin as evenly as you can, making sure there aren't any gaps. And even if the lid is all messy and uneven, I find it bakes up nicely, and the sprinkling of caster sugar at the end makes it look presentable. (The sugar is not just for looks - jarred sour cherries are, well, sour, and need a little extra sugar to help even them out).

Messily-lidded cherry pie

Messily-lidded cherry pie

I've found the pastry behaves better if you let it come to room temperature before rolling it out, but I must admit I'm often in a hurry when I make it (i.e. when making five million things for a lunch), and forget to do this in time. So, sometimes it's neat, sometimes it's messy, but it's always delicious.

Here's another messy one - I was actually really pleased with this one because I patched up all the cracks with big pieces of pastry and ended up with a super-delicious thick layer of crisp, shortbready pastry on top.

Another messily lidded version
Crumbly pie crust for days

And just to prove that I have managed to do it neatly...

Woohoo! Neat pie crust

Baked pie

Sweet cherry pie

I've had thoughts of changing the pie a bit to make it look prettier (and more bloggable) - making a larger pie, for example, with crimped edges and a latticed top - but that would mean sacrificing the utter taste perfection that is this pie. And I would never sacrifice taste for appearance. In its shallow twenty centimetre tart tin, with a layer of pastry on the bottom and on top, you get just the right ratio of crumbly buttery pastry to soft sour cherry filling. It's just perfect.

Cherry pie insides

I always serve it with thick double cream or crème fraîche - the rich, mouthfilling fattiness of the cream is just so appealing against the sharp sour cherries. Whipped cream (from a can, for preference) is always fun, but doesn't taste as good as real cream. Vanilla ice-cream, I think, overshadows the pie, but if you are someone who prefers your pie à la mode, I wouldn't stop you.

Cherry pie!

This is the only cherry pie for me. I hope it becomes your favourite too!

Cherry Pie
Recipe from Nigella's How to Eat, with (minor) adaptations to ingredients and (more significant) adaptations to the method by me

For the pastry
240 grams self-raising flour
120 grams cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 egg yolks beaten with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons cold water
For the filling
1 tablespoon almond meal
670 grams jar pitted morello cherries
30 grams butter, melted
90 grams caster sugar + 1-2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 tablespoon flour
1-2 tablespoons juice from the drained morello cherries

Place the flour and butter into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it is incorporated through the flour and the mixture resembles damp sand.
Pour half the egg yolk mixture into the flour-butter mixture, and mix together by hand until it comes together, adding more liquid if required. (You might not need all the liquid).
Split the dough into two pieces (one slightly smaller than the other), form into two squat discs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (or up to overnight).
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Roll out the larger piece of pastry to approx. 5mm thick, and use it to line a 20cm fluted tart tray with removable base. Sprinkle the almond meal over the pastry base.
Drain the cherries, reserving the juice.
Mix together the melted butter, sugar, flour and cherry juice to form a thick pink paste.
Spread the pink paste over the pastry base. Tumble the drained cherries on top and arrange evenly. (I usually find they fit in a single layer). Fold the edges of the pastry over the cherries to form a border, and brush with a little water.
Roll out the remaining piece of pastry and top the pie with it. Press down the edges to seal.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cover the pie loosely with foil, turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 18 minutes. (If the pie isn't brown enough at the end of cooking, pop it back in the oven for a few extra minutes, or until browned to your liking).
Remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle with caster sugar and allow to cool for 30 minutes to an hour before eating.
Serve with double cream or crème fraîche.
Serves 6-8

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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  1. That looks really good! I love sour cherries :D Love your perfect crust!

  2. Yummmm. I'm going to make a lattice-topped cherry pie for my workplace's cooking competition on Monday. Wish me luck!

    1. Ooh yum! I hope it went well! xox

  3. Yes. I've made this once and about to make it again. It was sooo good. Only this time i'm going to put 2 jars of cherries in it.
    Thank yiu for this divine recipe



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