There's One Trick to Fool-Proof Cherry Pie and Here It Is
I love cherry pie, but I am also particular about my cherry pie. I like mine packed with cherries, with just enough thickened juices to hold them together, not random cherries swimming in goo. I hate when my cherry pies spill juice all over the place when sliced, and no one likes a soggy bottom. It took me a long time to get my cherry pie just right, and for me, there were a couple key shifts from the usual recipes.
My secrets for fool-proof cherry pie
I actually have three secrets, and here they are!
One: I do a deep-dish cherry pie. I find the ratio of filling to crust just works better with a taller pie.
Two: I use tapioca flour to thicken instead of flour or cornstarch. I find it is a cleaner flavor and doesn't get chalky or claggy.
Three (and my most important trick): I replace a portion of the fresh cherries with dried cherries.
The brilliance of adding dried cherries to cherry pie
Hear me out on the scientific reasoning here. Tapioca flour thickens when it comes nearly to a boil. But the cherries start releasing juice as soon as the sugar is added. So, the danger is the window between filling the pie with that juicy filling, and the internal temp getting hot enough to activate the tapioca. That is where the dried cherries come into play. As the fresh cherries release their juices the dried cherries immediately begin to absorb the liquid and rehydrate, which just gives enough time for the tapioca to catch up, helping to prevent making the bottom crust wet. Genius!
You can use this trick with your own preferred recipe if you don't want to make mine: Just swap in about 1/6 of the volume of your fresh fruit with dried.
One more secret to foolproof cherry pie: preheating the pan!
Finally, by baking on a preheated pan in the lower third of the oven, the bottom crust starts to bake quickly to set it up and crisp, while keeping the top crust a bit at a distance from the top element of the oven, which helps to prevent burning during the long baking time.
If you love cherry pie as much as I do, give this deep-dish version a start! I often use a store-bought crust to make this easy on myself, my preferred one is Ready to Roll Dough discs, which you can find in the freezer section of many supermarkets.
My favorite recipe for deep dish cherry pie
Ready to create the dessert that's going to win every summer backyard party? It couldn't be easier.
Deep Dish Cherry Pie
2 pie crusts, homemade or store-bought
2½ pounds fresh or frozen pitted Montmorency cherries
½ pound dried unsweetened Montmorency cherries
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup tapioca flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pear brandy or eau de vie
2 Tablespoons cream
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar or coarse raw sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375° with rack on the bottom third, and a sheet pan preheating with the oven. Line a 9-inch wide, 2-inch-deep tart shell or pie shell with one crust, then put in the fridge to chill at least 30 minutes.
2. If you are using fresh cherries, pit carefully and set aside. If using frozen, defrost cherries overnight in a colander to remove excess liquid (you can use it to drink!).
3. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the fresh or defrosted cherries, the dried cherries, and the pear brandy. Stir to combine: You will get a thick goo around the cherries.
4. Fill your chilled pie shell with the cherry mixture. Top with the second crust, latticed or with steam vents cut in, and pinch the rim tightly to seal. Brush the top crust with cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar or coarse raw sugar.
5. Bake at 375° for about 1 hour 15 minutes, rotating as needed for even browning. (Start checking internal temperature at around the 1-hour mark; you should see bubbling and internal temp of 175° when the pie is finished.) If your top crust begins to brown before the pie is done, tent with foil and keep baking.
6. Let cool on a rack completely before cutting and serving.