It’s no secret that one of my favourite things about summer is eating myself sick on stone fruit. I spend all winter dreaming of grilled peaches, poached nectarines and tiny plums
So, when my market was selling cartons of cherries before Christmas, I went a little crazy. Let’s be honest, I don’t make great choices under pressure. What I really wanted, was the recipe for Varnish on King’s Cherry Whiskey Sour, which is probably my favourite cocktail of all time. Sadly, Jamie isn’t giving up the goods, so I settled for putting that cocktail into pie form which was probably just as delicious, and with slightly fewer next-day regrets.
Pie is a kind of dish that you walk away from feeling accomplished. No one can ever accuse you of it coming from a box, or ‘cheating’ in any way. From having to pit the cherries, to wait for the dough to chill, you earn this pie every step of the way. Should you have any worries that it’s a lot of effort for nought, let me assure you that the final result is nothing short of completely worth it.
Yeah, you bet I played Warren on repeat while I make this sucker. There was hip swaying, and kitchen dancing, and a rollicking good time was had by all (me). In fact, I heartily suggest that you do the same.
Vanilla Bourbon Cherry Pie
From Half Baked Harvest
1.3 kilos fresh cherries, pitted (I really only had about 900g, which was fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed from the pod
zest from 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten
demerara sugar or granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Make your favourite pastry recipe – mine is this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it’s perfect. It’s pretty much foolproof, so if you’re a beginner, it’s a great place to start.
Once dough is chilled, let it sit on your bench for 5 minutes or so to soften enough to be rolled. Grease/butter a 22cm/9-inch pie dish, and heat your oven to 220 degrees C.
On a floured bench top, roll out one half of the dough to a 30cm/12 inch round. Very carefully, lift it into your pie dish. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, then prick the base all over with a fork.
Roll out the second half of the dough on a floured bench in to a 30cm/12 inch round. Transfer onto baking paper.
To decorate the crust: now, it’s up to you how you do this – you can punch stars or holes into the crust, or cut it into strips and go the traditional weave crust – be creative, this is the fun part! If you’d like ideas, check out here. Once done, place the dough in the fridge to firm up.
Add the cherries, sugar, cornflour, bourbon, vanilla and lemon zest in a large bowl, and toss them together to make sure it’s really well combined. Scrape the fruit and all the delicious juices into the pie dish.
Carefully place your pie crust over the pie and remove the baking paper. Crimp the bottom and top crusts together to seal in all the goodness, then brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Whack the whole thing back in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.
When ready to bake, place the pie dish on a baking tray (this catches any spills when the pie bubbles up and makes your oven easier to clean – trust me on this), and bake for around 30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Reduce the temperature to 180 degrees C, and bake for another 50-60 minutes to get the juices bubbling.
Leave to cool on a wire rack for a good 4 hours before tucking in, and serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.