Growing up in the produce industry, a box (or seven) of cherries would inevitably make their way ‘off the back of a truck’ at Christmas time. I would eat so many cherries at Christmas time as a child that I’m certain I was turning a rich cherry red.
Cherries = Christmas.
This year I wanted to make an easy dessert in the lead up to Christmas, as family descends on my mum’s and we all gather to start celebrating the season. An excess (is there such a thing?) of cherries had me dreaming up a festive cherry pie to share, sticky and sweet with an almond crust and hint of orange…
Christmas Cherry Pie with Almond Pastry
30g ground almonds (or you can grind your own, I did mine in my Thermomix)
30g caster sugar
210g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
Pinch of salt
130g butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg yolk
3-4 tablespoons orange juice
500g pitted cherries (a cherry/olive pitter like this is invaluable. Alternatively you could definitely use jar/tin Morello cherries)
150g raw sugar
30g plain flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
25 grams of butter, chilled and cubed
Combine the ground almonds, sugar, flour, mixed spice and salt in a food processor and whiz until resembles fine bread crumbs (I did in Thermomix on speed 6 for 10 seconds). Add egg yolk and orange juice and pulse to form a dough (I did Interval speed for 20 seconds). Turn onto a floured board or silicone mat. Roughly knead and form into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until cold.
Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl, except the butter. Remove almond pastry from the fridge and with 2/3’s of it roll out to 1-2cm thick and your desired shape – I used a long rectangular tart tin. Fit pastry into your tin and cover with baking paper and baking beads/uncooked rice, blind bake for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees.
Pour cherry filling mixture into your pie crust, scatter the cubed butter on top. With remaining 1/3 of your pastry roll out to 1-2cm thick and cut out star shapes. Arrange on top of your pie and bake for 25-30 minutes at 180 degrees. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
I made my ‘pie’ in a long rectangular tin as when I opened up my (let’s be honest, already bursting) drawers of bakeware I was aghast to see I have no suitable pie dish/tin?! Must be rectified. Listening Santa? You could make these in little muffin tins though with a single star on top, sort of like fruit mince pies. I’m not a fruit mince pie fan, but cherries – cherries and I go way back.
Have you done much Christmas baking this year yet?
A gingerbread house extravaganza?
Or shunning fruit mince pies like me?