We did a road trip to the Okanagan once one summer a long time ago when my friend E. was pregnant with her first child.
We stopped in towns with names like Summerland and Peachland buying fruits from the string of produce stands dotting the roadside. I don’t remember everything that happened on the trip, which is not surprising since E’s son turns ten in a few months, but I know that was the summer I decided that cherries, not strawberries were going to be my favourite summer fruit.
We parked by a fruit stand on a dusty roadside near an old mining town, it was probably our third stop, but this stand had a water hose by its side, so we got to wash all our fruit, got a few more pounds sugary-sweet deep-crimsoned cherries and devoured them in a matter of hours – which is perfectly ok when you’re travelling with a pregnant woman!
I ate so much cherry on that trip, I literally got sick for days; yet in that instant when cherries should have been vilest things to me, I decided I loved them, and they were going to be my fruit of the season. It was all I could talk about in the months leading up to the next summer; and so summer and cherries became synonymous over the years.
I made my first cherry pie from the cherries we brought home from our road trip. It was also the first pie I’d ever baked; I got the recipe from a woman from work, who months before had taught me how to make my own granola.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the recipe was, and how well I did for a first try. It’s the same recipe I use to this day, albeit with a few modifications.
The most significant adjustment is replacing butter with coconut oil in the crust, which works just as perfectly. It’s a little tricky because the coconut oil when cold makes the dough very hard, so letting it rest (after you remove it from the fridge) a little before rolling helps, and then let the pie hang out in the fridge for a few minutes before baking after it’s assembled.
I add a mix of nutmeg and cardamom to the dough, it gives a certain warmth and verve to the pie that I can’t get with any other spice.
- 2 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom or (1 teaspoon cinnamon)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 1 cup (8oz) cold (solidified) coconut oil, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup ice cold water
- 4 cups pitted fresh cherries
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for pie topping
- 2 tablespoons corn starch or tapioca powder or arrowroot powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Kirsch or other fruit-based liqueur, optional
- Combine flour, salt, nutmeg, cardamom and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix
- Add butter and process until mixture looks like a course meal
- Add apple cider vinegar and starting with 1/4 cup of water, slowly pour the water through feed tube while the processor runs, until the dough comes together when pinched, add more water if necessary.
- Alternatively, you can mix ingredients by hand – once dough has a crumbly texture, add apple cider vinegar and water a spoonful at a time kneading until dough forms
- Gather dough into a ball on a work surface and divide into two, flattening each half into a disk
- Wrap in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 24 hours, until you’re ready to use
- To make filling, combine cherries, sugar, corn starch and salt in a large bowl
- Add lemon juice, zest, vanilla extract and Kirsch, gently toss to combine and set aside
- Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes (for coconut oil to soften)
- Place one disk of dough on lightly-floured work surface and roll dough into a 10 – 12 inch circle or large enough to cover a medium (8 – 9-inch) pie pan with a bit of an overhang
- Transfer rolled dough in to a medium pie pan, cover top with a plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge
- Meanwhile, roll second dough into another 10 – 12 inch circle or large enough to cover the pie pan
- Remove the prepared pie shell from the fridge and pour the cherry filling into it
- Gently place the top crust dough over open pie, trim off the excess dough, press the edges to seal and crimp with a fork or your hand
- Make a slit (or 4 small slits) in the middle of the crust for steam to escape, and sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top of the crust
- Refrigerate pie for another 20 – 30 minutes
- Bake pie in oven at 350 degrees F. for 50 – 60 minutes, or until pie is cooked through and crust is golden brown
- Cool pie on a wire rack for at least 2 – 3 hours before serving with your favourite ice cream or coconut whip