Summer is most definitely here. And after one straight month of warm sunny days (with a few rainy ones in between, it wouldn’t be London otherwise), we’re starting to get used to this. Who can remember what it was like to put on a heavy coat (not shorts), tights and boots, (not flipflops) and a woolly hat (not sunglasses)? We are truly in the summer spirit and desperate to make the most of every second of sunshine (unfortunately work seems to get in the way). In fact we’re thinking Summer Stress might be a thing (aka anxiety that you’re missing out on this glorious weather – trust Londoners to moan about weather being this great!).
One of our favourite things about summer (apart from numerous opportunities to eat ice cream) is all the delicious summer fruit available – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cherries. Although most of the time we love eating them raw, we’re feeling inspired by the numerous pie posts on the NY Times website. Sweet double-crust pies aren’t completely unknown in the UK, but pies are commonly sold savoury (chicken and mushroom, steak and kidney etc) and usually eaten in comfort during our grey, dark winters, with mashed potatoes and gravy if savoury (and if you’re a Southerner) or custard/heavy cream if sweet. In comparison, eating sweet pies in the heat of summer seems wild and crazy! Let’s try wild and crazy!
We thought we’d try an old favourite – cherry pie, but with our twist. We added a smidgen of coconut and made it mini-sized – perfect for two! Plus, as it’s so small, it takes very little time to prepare and bake, which is ideal on warm, humid days, when you’d rather not be in the kitchen for too long.
If you’d never tried making a pie before, they are relatively simple to make and you don’t have to worry about making it look absolutely perfect. You just need to remember to keep all the ingredients for the pie dough as cold as possible (even your hands if making it by hand) and mix quickly but not so thoroughly so that the butter melts into the dough. And don’t worry if it comes out crumbly, our recipe is for shortcrust pastry – crumbly and shortbread-like – yum!
Makes one 4-inch pie (You can also make one large 9inch pie, just multiply the ingredients, chilling and baking time by 4)
70g plain flour (plus more for dusting)
2 tsp cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1-2 tbsp ice water
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
3/4 cup of pitted sweet ripe cherries
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp water
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
1/2 tbsp milk
1/4 tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat oven at 200 degrees C (fan-assisted). Grease a small 4-inch pie dish or one section of a Yorkshire pudding pan (like we did!). Alternatively, you can fashion the pie on a baking sheet, but it will be messy!
- Mix all the ingredients for the pie crust in a bowl except the ice water, in a food processor. Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix the ingredients and cut/rub in the butter into the flour quickly, until the butter pieces are pea-sized.
- Slowly add the ice water to the mixture until the dough comes together (knead gently if you must).
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each piece in cling film and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes until firm.
- In the meantime, add all the ingredients for the pie filling into a small saucepan and cook on a low heat until the cherries are softened and the mixture has thickened into the same consistency as jam. Take the pan off the heat and cool until lukewarm.
- Once the dough has firmed up, roll out each piece onto a floured surface into a circle, until large enough to cover the base and sides of your pie dish.
- Press one piece of dough into the base and sides of the pie tin (or if you are not using a dish, lay onto a greased baking sheet and fashion the dough into a “bowl” shape) – don’t worry if it breaks a bit, just patch any holes with leftover dough.
- Spoon the cooled filling onto the base. Cover the filling with the second piece of dough and press the top piece of dough into the bottom, crimping as you go along.
- Make 4 slits into the top of the pie, and brush the top with milk.
- Sprinkle demerara sugar on top of the pie and bake for about 15 minutes until the pie is golden brown.
- Once baked, leave the pie dish in a cool area until fully cooled, and slice to eat immediately or transfer to a container to store in the fridge for later. The pie will keep for a few days in the fridge, but you can warm in the oven before serving to crisp up the crust.
- Enjoy with custard/double cream/ice cream or on its own!
So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.