Evans Cherry Pie to Make Billy Boy Happy

This classic sour cherry pie will make your mouth pucker and your guests beg for more! With a gluten-free crust option, too.

Evans cherry pie

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?
Yes, she can bake a cherry pie, she’s the apple of my eye,
But she’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

That famous nursery rhyme/song has been my earworm all day, so I just had to go and bake a cherry pie today. (Yes, I know my lyrics are different, but that’s how I remember them from childhood :) )

Apparently baking a cherry pie is one of the criteria necessary for becoming a wife – good thing my husband didn’t know that when he met me, or we might never have tied the knot! So, better late than never, I’ve learned to make a cherry pie. It’s darn good, if I do say so myself (and I’m no longer even a young thing who cannot leave her mother!)

Evans cherry pie plate with piece

The Evans cherry trees are loaded with their ruby jewels – glistening, juicy, sour cherries. It’s late in the season, so they are especially sweet (well . . . for sour cherries).

Evans cherry pie, cherries on tree

It takes just minutes to pick a pail full, and not much longer to pit them using this slick and easy trick.

ladder and pail of Evans cherries by tree

And Evans Cherry Pie is especially, unforgettably, tantalizingly, delicious if you give it a good splash of sour cherry brandy made from last year’s cherry crop. (But if you don’t have any, don’t despair – Billy Boy and his friends will still love the pie without it.)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute another fruit liqueur for the cherry brandy, like Creme de Cassis (black currant liqueur), raspberry liqueur, or even just use apple juice.

For the lard or shortening called for in the pie crust recipes, you can use part butter.

whole cherry pie

Evans Cherry Pie

  • 1 quantity of pie dough for a double crust pie (use your favourite pastry recipe or see the regular and gluten-free recipes below)
  • 4 cups (675gms) pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen (see how to pit Evans cherries)
  • 1 ¼ cups (250gms) natural evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons (50gms) tapioca starch or 5 tablespoons (50gms) minute tapioca
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ¼ cup cherry brandy (homemade or purchased), other fruit liqueur, or apple juice

Roll out half of the pastry and line a 9 or 9½ inch  (23-24 cm) pie plate with it. Set the pastry-lined dish in the refrigerator to chill while rolling the top crust and making the filling.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out pastry for the top crust (between two sheets of parchment paper if making gluten-free pastry – see below) and cut out six or seven small holes (cherry-sized) using a bottle cap or small round cutter. Remove the dough from the holes with the tip of a butter knife.

cutting holes in the top crust

Place the pitted cherries and any accumulated juices in a bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and tapioca starch. Toss gently with a silicone spatula until evenly distributed.

Sprinkle with the almond extract and the cherry brandy, liqueur, or apple juice. Toss again gently to combine.

cherry pie top crust with holes

Tip the cherry filling into the chilled pastry crust. Carefully lift the top crust on top and press the edges together to seal them. With a sharp knife, trim off the excess crust all around the edge of the pie dish. Flute the rim of pastry with your fingers to make a pretty scalloped edge.

cherry pie filled and fluted

Set the pie onto a baking dish (to catch any filling that bubbles out). I like to use a pizza pan with a raised lip.

Bake the cherry pie for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45 to 50 minutes, until the pastry is golden and you can see the filling bubbling slightly through the holes in the pastry.

Let cool completely before cutting into 6 to 8 wedges.

Evans cherry pie with Mickey Mouse

this pie overflowed its edges, but Mickey and Minnie love it anyway

Regular Pastry for Pie Crust

from the inside cover of the 1980 Fanny Farmer Cookbook

for a 9-inch two-crust pie:

  • 2½ cups (350gms) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup lard or shortening
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized clumps remain. Add five tablespoons of the water, stirring with a fork. Add 1 or 2 more tablespoons until the mixture can just be pressed together into a rough ball. Knead the pastry lightly a couple times to make sure all the flour is worked in. Don’t work the dough too much. You want to be able to see some clumps of shortening remaining, so the pastry will be flaky. Cut the ball in two, making one half slightly larger (for the bottom crust). Form each ball into a disk, then wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

(At this point the pastry balls can also be refrigerated overnight or for several days before being used. Remove them from the refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling.)

Dust the work surface lightly with flour and roll out the dough to a round that is about an inch (2.5cm) larger than the pie dish all the way around. Lift the pastry from the work surface by draping it over the rolling pin, then sliding it into the pie plate, and easing the sides down all the way around the dish with your fingers.

Roll out the smaller ball to about ½ inch (1.3 cm) bigger than the pie plate all the way around, cutting holes as mentioned above, and place on top of the filled bottom crust. Trim off the excess dough, press the two layers of pastry together all the way around the pie, and flute the edges of the pie crust.

Gluten Free Pastry for Pie Crust

gluten free bottom crust ready to fill

this gluten free crust drapes beautifully

Kitchen Frau Note: While you are measuring out the dry ingredients for this crust, set out several bowls and make 2 or 3 batches at the same time, place each one in a heavy duty zip top bag, label it ‘Pie Crust Mix’ and write on it which wet ingredients to add (lard, egg, vinegar, and water), and keep it in the freezer. You’ll be able to whip up a pie crust much more quickly when the urge strikes, plus the flour mix will already be nice and cold for mixing.

This crust is based on my  earlier pastry recipe, and while it has more ingredients, I feel it is a bit easier to work with than that first recipe.

  • 1 cup (100gms) oat flour (you can whiz rolled oats in a blender to make flour)
  • ¾ cup (100gms) sorghum flour
  • ½ cup (70gms) sweet rice flour
  • ½ cup (60gms) tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup (40gms) potato starch (not flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (helps the dough to brown)
  • 1 tablespoon (10gms) psyllium husk powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (170gms) cold lard or shortening (you can use part butter)
  • 1 large egg or chia egg (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds soaked 5 minutes in 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons cold water

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, or in a regular bowl. Dice the lard or shortening add it to the dry ingredients. Whiz for two to three seconds in the food processor, or if using a bowl, cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized clumps remain.

Add the egg and vinegar plus 2 tablespoons water. Whiz just until the dough starts to come together if you squeeze a handful, or if using a bowl, stir with a fork. If needed, add up to one more tablespoon water until the mixture can just be pressed together into a rough ball.

Dump the dough onto the counter if using a food processor, or leave it in the bowl. Knead the pastry lightly a couple times to make sure all the flour is worked in. Don’t work the dough too much. You want to be able to see some clumps of shortening remaining, so the pastry will be flaky.

Cut the ball in two, making one half slightly larger (for the bottom crust). Form each ball into a disk, then wrap the disk tightly in plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for an hour. At this point the balls of dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Roll out the dough for each crust between two sheets of parchment paper, working the rolling pin from the center of the pastry circle outwards. Lift the top sheet of parchment up occasionally and re-position it if it wrinkles. A trick that helps keep the paper from sliding all over the counter is to position the top sheet of parchment on top of the bottom sheet so the corners line up, then let one of the corners hang over the edge of the counter. Stand with your body against the parchment sheet and pin the overhanging corner between your body and the counter to hold it steady while you roll the from the center of the circle of pastry and outwards away from you. Keep rotating the paper a quarter turn, and pin down the next corner, each time rolling with the rolling pin away from you.

trick for rolling gluten free pastry

lean against the counter as you roll the gluten free pastry, wedging the parchment paper between your hip and the counter

Peel off the top sheet of parchment and invert the pastry circle into the pie dish, then carefully peel off the bottom sheet. Ease the pastry carefully down the sides of the dish by lifting up the edges and pressing it gently down into place with your fingers. Chill the bottom shell in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes before filling.

Repeat the procedure for the top crust, cutting small holes into it as mentioned above in the pie recipe, and inverting the crust onto the filling, then removing the remaining parchment paper. Trim off the excess and flute the edges of the pie crust.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

How to Pit Evans Cherries

Brandied Evans Cherries

Gingered Pear Tarts and Gluten Free Pastry Recipe

Confetti Crepes with Hazelnut Pear Filling


three photos evans cherry pie

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2 Responses to Evans Cherry Pie to Make Billy Boy Happy

  1. Jeanette says:

    I remember that song. Where the lyrics different that I can’t remember?

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Jeanette, I looked up the lyrics on YouTube and there are a lot of different versions with slightly different lyrics. I remember singing the line about “she’s the apple of my eye” but I couldn’t find it in any of the online versions. I guess that’s how some of those old folk tunes are. It’s such a catchy tune, though, I can’t stop humming it all day long once I just think about it once!

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