- 800g cherries (unpitted weight), halved and pitted
One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour…
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 140g cherry jam or conserve
- 75g white caster sugar, or vanilla sugar if you can find it
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 25g slightly salted butter, chopped into tiny pieces
- crème fraîche, cream or ice cream, to serve
For the pastry
- 225g cold slightly salted butter, chopped into tiny pieces
- 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 75g white caster sugar or vanilla sugar, plus 1 tbsp
- 2 medium egg yolks (save the whites to glaze)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
First, make the pastry. Put the butter and flour in a food processor and whizz until the mixture looks like damp breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Whisk the egg yolks, 2 tbsp cold water and the vanilla in a bowl, then drizzle over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough starts to clump together, adding a drizzle more water, 1 tsp at a time, if the dough feels dry – try not to add too much or the pastry will be tough. Tip out onto a work surface and knead briefly to bring everything together to a smooth dough. Break into 2 pieces, one a little larger than the other, wrap in cling film, pat into flat discs and chill for 30 mins.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Remove the larger piece of pastry from the fridge – if it feels a little firm, leave at room temperature for 20 mins to soften. On a floured surface, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use the pastry to line a 20-22cm metal pie plate or tin, leaving a little excess pastry overhanging – trim with a pair of scissors if necessary. Line the base with baking parchment and baking beans, and blind-bake for 20 mins. Mix the cherries, cornflour and sugar in a bowl. Add the cherry jam, vanilla and butter, and mix again.
Remove the beans and parchment from the base, brush the pastry with some of the beaten egg white and bake for 5 mins more until golden. Trim the pastry to neaten.
Turn the oven down to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Tip the cherries into the centre of the pie. Roll out the remaining pastry to the same thickness as before, large enough to cover the pie. Slide the pastry onto a well-floured sheet of baking parchment and, using your favourite mini biscuit cutter or the wide end of a piping nozzle, stamp out a scattering of shapes – we used a 2cm star cutter, but hearts or circles would look nice – just don’t cut out too many or the pastry will collapse. Brush the egg white over the edge of the pie rim and all over the lid. Place a few cut-out shapes back on the pastry, if you like. Carefully lift the baking parchment and pastry, and slide the pastry lid onto the pie, removing the parchment. Trim the excess pastry, then use a fork to press the lid to the base. Bake for 35 mins.
Brush the pie with the remaining egg white and scatter with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for a further 5 mins until golden brown and bubbling. Leave to cool for at least 20 mins before serving with crème fraîche, thick cream or ice cream.