I love cherries, and I have always enjoyed pie, but usually I am disappointed by the cherry pie that is churned out by most bakeries and coffee shops.
For starters, most of these pies are too sweet. Yes, pie should be sweet, but it shouldn’t be so sugary that you lose any hint of tartness from the cherries. Also, most of these pies are prepared with far too much cornstarch. This creates a pie with that gooey pie filling, which overshadows the cherries.
A year ago, I read an article that recommended using instant tapioca as a thickening agent instead of cornstarch. Ever since then, I have gone with tapioca, and I have been very satisfied with the results. Tapioca doesn’t create that gummy, waxy texture that cornstarch seems to leave. Cooks Illustrated agrees that when it comes to fruit pies, tapioca produces a better tasting pie than cornstarch does.
Anyway, scroll down for my cherry pie recipe. Please note that this recipe is for a 9-inch, deep-dish pie. If your pie pan isn’t this wide or deep, you’ll probably need to reduce the recipe to 4 cups of cherries. If so, reduce the sugar to 1 and a 1/4 cup, and reduce the tapioca to only 3 tablespoons.
Cherry Pie with a Streusel Topping
(for a 9-inch, deep-dish pie)
5 cups of tart red cherries
1-1/2 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of instant tapioca
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
If you’re making your own pie crust, follow your favorite recipe. If not, use a prepared pie crust for the bottom of the pie. Spoon the fruit filling into the pie pan. Then prepare the streusel topping:
1/3 cup of walnuts or pecans, chopped fine
1-1/2 cup of flour, sifted
1/2 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), fresh from the refrigerator
Chop the nuts finely in a food processor. Add them to a small mixing bowl, and then add the next two ingredients. Mix with a fork or spoon to blend the ingredients. Cut the stick of butter into pats and then add them to the nut-flour mixture. Using your hands or a pastry knife, work the pats of butter into the nut-flour mixture. Keep working the mixture until it starts to form small pebbles. Add more flour if necessary to help crumbly pebbles to form. Sprinkle streusel-crumble mixture over the top of the fruit filling.
In a bowl, make an egg-wash -- whisk one egg with a 1/4 cup of milk or half-n-half. Dip a pastry brush into the bowl, allow some of the excess egg wash to drip off the brush and then gently brush the exposed crust. This will help prevent the crust from burning.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 degrees or until crumble topping is golden brown.