This is our sixth Saturday in North Carolina. Each one (minus last week when I had my wisdom teeth removed) has been spent walking to the co-op grocery for biscuits and iced coffee then to the local farmers’ market. We stock up on milk, beer, dry goods, and less local produce at the co-op, and then pack our woven basket (a local preference in lieu of reusable bags or canvas totes) with farm eggs, blueberries for Aves, and lots of tomatoes. Last week, without our normal farmers’ market trip, we were swayed into buying a few too many pounds of on-sale late-season cherries at the co-op. With my sore gums and Aves lack of teeth, we couldn’t very well manage to eat them as is. So we did what we normally do in crisis situations: we make pie.
Bottles of local North Carolina Cheerwine , the Old North State equivalent to Texas’ Dublin Dr Pepper, had been calling from the back corner of the fridge for days. With its subtle cherry flavor – like real honest-to-goodness cherry flavor, not candied and saccharine – I figured it might be a nice little twist on the traditional cherry pie. And then things went full Carolina when my new Ateco alphabet cutters arrived in the mail. Who knew that my two favorite words in the correspondents’ vocabulary are a kind of state saying here: Cheers, y’all.
Note that the Cheerwine serves as a source of sweetener AND an acid in this recipe. If your cherries are extra ripe and therefore extra sweet, reduce the amount of sugar.
cherry cheerwine pie
makes one 9-inch pie
1 bottle of Cheerwine
one recipe double-crust pie dough
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons KAF ClearJel
about 2 pounds ripe cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg + splash of water
Set oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out half of the dough into a large circle and cover the bottom of the pie pan. Roll out the second half and cut out steam vents on top (I used my alphabet cutters, but simple slits or holes will do fine, too). Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, reduce the entire bottle of Cheerwine until thick and syrupy and about only 1/4 cup remains. Set aside.
While the Cheerwine reduces, prepare the filling. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, and clearjel. Add the cherries and toss to combine. Add the slightly cooled Cheerwine and the vanilla and fold together with a wooden spoon. Pour the cherry filling into the pie shell and smooth into an even layer. Carefully place the second piece of rolled dough over the filling. Trim the edges as necessary and seal the two crusts together with the tines of a fork. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Place the pie on a large sheet pan in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 and continue to bake for another 45 minutes or until the crust is a rich golden brown and the filling begins to bubble. Let the pie cool completely before cutting.