This All-American Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping is the perfect dessert, nostalgic to me, in that it reminds me of a dessert choice you’d order at a diner. Tender, flaky crust loaded with juicy cherries in a thick sauce and buttery crumbles of sugary dough on top baked to a golden brown. It’s perfect for any family dinner, BBQ or holiday get together!
Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping
Summer time means lots of fresh fruit desserts and this is one of my favorites. I thought about calling this favorite pie of mine just Cheery Pie, but it didn’t use a top layer of dough and then Cherry Crumb Pie came to mind, but settled on Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping because that perfectly describes exactly what it is.
I make this cherry pie from scratch with a homemade pie crust (yes, you could buy a frozen one if it’s not your thing), fresh or frozen pitted cherries depending on what’s available, a kiss of balsamic vinegar for a slight orange flavor and acid to counter the sweetness, and a buttery crumb topping.
We’re talking dessert comfort food right here!
Crumb Topping or Streusel?
They’re both the same to me, but I get an instant dessert image from crumb topping and danish image calling something with streusel.
It’s a crumbly topping made of flour, butter, and sugar that is baked on top of pies, cakes, muffins and breads. I add a little more texture by tossing in some oats.
Why vodka in pie dough?
I first read about adding alcohol to dough after being asked to test a pie recipe for Irvin over at Eat the Love. He was writing his cookbook, Marbled, Swirled and Layered and graciously asked me to go over his recipe for Lemon-Blackberry Chess Pie. It was outrageously delicious. A must try!
Anyways, I did some research and found this reason on Cooks Illustrated:
Unlike water, alcohol does not contribute to the formation of gluten, the network of proteins that can cause a crust to turn leathery. Because the alcohol burns off quickly in the oven, drying out the crust, we could add enough vodka to keep the dough wet and extremely supple.
Interesting no? I’ve always said baking is a science and cooking is an art. 🙂
One kitchen tip I wanted to share with all of you was NOT to make the crumb topping first and leave it near you as your working. You will want to nibble and eat it like I did, and by the time it was ready to be added to the cherry pie I needed to make more as half was gone. Good stuff. 🙂
Other summer time dessert to try:
- Key Lime Bars
These Key Lime Bars have a puckery curd, no cream cheese filling, layered on a tender graham cracker crust for that refreshing, Miami Beach summer dessert!
- Gramma’s Easy Berry Cobbler
A tasty, buttery batter gets poured over fresh seasonal berries of choice, is baked to a golden brown and is ready for a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream!
- Texas Sheet Cake
Texas Sheet Cake is a thin, flat chocolate cake baked in a large sheet pan topped with a thick, sugary icing and chopped pecans.
- Shortbread Lemon Bars
With a buttery shortbread crust and puckery, sweet lemon curd, these are a great way to use up some of Summer’s citrus.
- Old Fashioned Cherry Crisp
Bing cherries covered in a simple flour, sugar, oat and egg crumble that gets melted butter poured on top and baked to a golden brown.
I’m hoping you give this cherry pie recipe a try, whether using a homemade crust or frozen, it’s delicious! Enjoy!
Cherry Pie with Crumb Topping
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 tbsp cold unsalted butter cubed
- 8 tbsp cold vegetable shortening
- 6 to 8 tbsp chilled vodka (See Note 1)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter softened
- 1/4 cup rolled oats
- pinch kosher salt
- 5 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries (See Note 2)
- 4 tbsp corn starch use half if cherries are fresh
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Add the flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening to a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the chilled vodka, a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together (don’t add any more vodka). You want just enough to bind the dough together.
- Remove dough from processor and form into 2 flat oval discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze one (for up to a month) for later use. Chill other in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Make the crumb topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, mixing to create coarse crumbles with a fork. Set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the cherry filling ingredients, tossing to mix thoroughly and cherries are coated.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. On a floured work surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick, working from the center outwards.
- I carefully roll the dough back onto the rolling pin, lift up and unroll it into the pie pan. Gently press dough into pan bottom and up sides. Trim excess dough from the edges and crimp.
- Pour cherry filling into pie shell and sprinkle the crumb topping over all. Bake for 35-40 minutes on a lined baking sheet. Top should be golden brown and fruit bubbling.
- Unlike water, alcohol does not contribute to the formation of gluten, the network of proteins that can cause a crust to turn leathery. Because the alcohol burns off quickly in the oven, drying out the crust, we could add enough vodka to keep the dough wet and extremely supple.
- Fresh or frozen cherries can be used, just drain excess water from thawed frozen. Using the canned version with the "sauce" is pretty flavorless and just a sauce thickened by cornstarch. I find the ratio of cherries to sauce in those 1 part cherries to 2 parts sauce and go for the fresh or frozen. If you do use them, double up after draining the sauce to get the right amount of cherries needed.