This is actually my first attempt at making pies. I had to make them, because I am the host of Aspiring Bakers #10: Easy as Pie (August 2011), and since I claimed that making pies are “as easy as pie”, I thought I’d better prove it to myself before trying to convince others. What are pies in my opinion? I tend to view pies as those which have a bottom crust, and a proper top crust, and by proper I mean either the same crust that the bottom is made of, or a shortcrust/puff pastry top. Anything short of that, like a crumble or streusel topping shouldn’t really be categorized as a pie, but that’s just me of course. Of course, some might beg to differ, and a clear exception would be “shepherd’s pie”, which really isn’t a pie nor a tart.

Anyway, it’s spring in the Northern hemisphere, and with that comes an abundance of spring fruits like berries and cherries. I absolutely love this season, because all my favorite fruits are in season. I love the berries and the stone fruits, and it’s times like this that I totally appreciate living in Singapore, because we get an abundance of fruits from all over the place, be it Iran or Israel, or America. And what tops all of this off is that we get the best of both worlds – when it’s spring in the Northern hemisphere, we get to enjoy seasonal fruits imported from those places. And when it changes to winter there, we can easily turn to the Southern hemisphere which is enjoying spring for our cravings for any spring produce.

Anyway, I had a last bit of pie crust left, and I decided that I had to do a pie, even if they were mini ones, just to try it out. The dough is made with the Bourke Street Bakery recipe I shared earlier, and the filling is a mixture of only cherries or a combination of cherries and rhubarb, both of which are heavenly. I got the rhubarb imported from Australia, after I saw that they were retailing at close to S$20/kg here :/ Thankfully a friend was coming back for his vacation, so it was perfect timing! As much as I love snacking on Bing cherries, I would have preferred a more sweet-sour experience, but I guess we can only achieve that with sour Morello cherries, which we sadly do not get here. 

Making the lattice layer is pretty easy actually, I didn’t manage to take any photos myself, but this slideshow by Bon Appétit is pretty helpful, although I’ve to admit that these pictures by Jenny got me convinced that it wasn’t that difficulty. My lattice tops weren’t too even because I didn’t have that much pie crust left  >.<

Cherry-Rhubarb Pie
Very loosely adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler in Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 4 muffin-sized pies

For the pastry dough
I used a quarter portion of the Bourke Street Bakery recipe for pate brisee
For the fruit filling 
85g cherries 
55g rhubarb
15g brown sugar
5g cornstarch
1g ground ginger
1g ground cinnamon
Zest from half a lemon
Pinch of salt 

    Preparing the pastry dough,
    1. If working from frozen dough, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours before following instructions below. 
    2. Remove the pastry dough disc from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you wish to roll it.
    3. After flouring your work surface and rolling pin, roll out the disc to about 3-5mm thick. It is best to start rolling from the centre and rolling the dough away from you, rotating the dough whilst you are at it. Do not attempt to stretch the dough overly, because the pastry will just shrink in the oven later.
    4. After rolling, use a round pastry cutter to cut rounds into the pastry. Fit these rounds on top of your muffin tin and use your fingers to gently push the pastry into the mould. At the same time, even out the thickness of the pastry all around. Roll the leftover pastry into a ball to roll out for the top crust later. 
    5. Leave the muffin tin in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to relax the gluten. 
    6. In the meantime, prepare the filling. 
    Preparing the filling,
    1. Pit and halve the cherries. Trim, peel and cut the stalks of rhubarb into 3-5cm long slices. Mix both fruits together in a large bowl. 
    2. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar and salt together with the lemon zest. Rub the zest together with the sugar using your fingers to release the maximum amount of ‘lemony-ness’. Sift together the cornstarch, ground ginger and ground cinnamon into the bowl. Mix well. 
    3. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the fruit and toss until all the fruit is evenly coated.
    Putting them together,
    1. Place equal portions of the fruit into each muffin hole. If the fruit has macerated and there is a substantial amount of liquid, do not put the liquid into the pie. 
    2. With the leftover dough, roll it out and using a bench scrapper or pizza cutter, cut out strips of even width. 
    3. Using the pictorial instructions here, begin your lattice tops for your pies. Fold in any overhang and trim away the excess lattice for a neat pie. Brush a simple egg wash (half an egg + 1 tablespoon of water) on the tops of the pie. 
    4. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven of 180°C. 
    5. Once the tops have turned golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before removing to cool on a wire rack. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes because the juices and filling will be very hot. 

      Janine’s jots: 
      • Notes: The moment the fruit touches the sugar, it will begin to macerate. Therefore, it is best not to prepare the fruit filling too early. If there is lots of liquid when you’re ready to fill the pie, do not use all the liquid because the filling will soften and liquefy when baked. 
      • Taste: I loved the contrast between the sweet Bing cherries, the slightly sour rhubarb stalks and zest from the lemon. However, I felt that it could do with a slight more sourness and less sweetness. But that’s just my personal preference. Friends I gave this too loved it :]
      • Texture: Perfect flaky crust which gives way to a warm, thick filling which retained its shape still – delicious. 
      • Serving size: Although these hand pies fit into your palm easily, they’re definitely not bite-sized. It takes at least 5 bites or more to slowly savor them and they make a pretty substantial snack!
      • Modifications: Perhaps a tad more zest and a little more sugar the next time, because I felt that although the fruits were sweet, the filling lacked sugar. You can also make all-cherry fillings, because I made 2 with all-cherry filling and they were delicious too!
      • Storage: The pies store really well at room temperature, kept in an air-tight container for a week. Do zap them in the oven or toaster for a while to crisp them up again, because they’re best eaten when warm. 
      • Would I make this again?: Of course, but I definitely need more work on my lattice-making skills. 
      Insides of the pies, before topping them. 
      You can tell which pie I attempted making first. The lattice tops get marginally better looking in a clockwise fashion heh.
      Lattice tops for the cherry-rhubarbs and crumble tops for the apples :]
      Ooh yum check them out, all crispy and oozy! Also, my filling oozed out of the pie because I tilted the pan when removing it from the oven, allowing the ‘juice’ to overflow :/
      Mmm yum. You can see how flaky the pie crust is. 
      Upclose. I prefer a thick crust all around, hence the thickness. You can choose to go thinner if you want!
      A final picture to end this post :]


      1. Great job for your first attempt at making pies. They look adorable and yummy!


      2. crustabakes says:

        I absolutely love cherries, and where i live in Jakarta, the price tags on them are ridiculously high! This cherry pies might be worth to invest on the cherries though. They look so delicious!

      3. delicious looking wonderful pies

      4. Anncoo says:

        Looks very yummy, love the colour too!

      5. How does cherry and rhubarb combo taste like ? I only know ppl mostly mix rhubarb with strawberry.
        Scrumptious looking creation once again! great job =)

      6. The lattice pattern on top is so cute and I love the filling peeking through! 😀

      7. yeah, like Wilson, I’m wondering if the cherries would be able to cut through all that tart flavours from rhubarb. Thanks for the tutorial link for the latticing. Learning something everyday!

      8. For a first timer u have done a very pretty job , i wouldn know if u hadnt mentioned!
        Sounds like a great group too and u have a wonderful blog!

      9. Swee San says:

        That’s a pretty good job for your first time making pies. i tried making my first meringue pie abt 10-12 years ago when I was still in secondary school (not knowing what meringue was.. LOL) it was major fail LOL. I would macerate the cherries n rhubarb a little longer cause i love the tarts with oozing cherry juices.

      10. Janine says:

        @Reese, Lorraine, Anncoo, Torviewtoronto, Hankerie: thanks 😀

        @Wilson and Alan: Cherries and rhubarb ain’t a very unusual combination, but I would think that sour cherries would have done a better job – the sweet cherries I used did help in offsetting the tartness of the rhubarbs but I personally prefer the combination of strawberry and rhubarb because the tartness of the strawberries somehow brings out the best of both fruits! Glad to help with the latticing tutorial 😀

        @Swee San: thanks 😀 strangely enough, the cherries produced quite a bit of juice of the short few minutes I macerated it for!

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