Lattice-Top Cherry Pie Bars

published Jul 1, 2022
summer
Double-Crust Cherry Pie Bars Recipe

The classic pie in bar form — perfect for picnics or potlucks.

Makes12 to 16 bars

Prep1 hour 15 minutes

Cook1 hour 20 minutes

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Whole cherry pie tart fresh out of the oven on cooling rack.
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani | Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Let’s just get this out of the way: I love cherry pie! So much so, I have a cherry pie ornament on my Christmas tree every year, thanks to my friend Nina. But if I’m being honest, at this time of year I often don’t feel like fussing with the process of making a whole pie. I’d much prefer to chill out with my family and friends at early summertime picnics and celebrations.

These double-crust cherry pie bars are my way of simplifying making a homemade cherry pie. They require less work and time, and are pretty forgiving. The bars are made with two boxes of refrigerated pie crusts, sweet (fresh or frozen) cherries, a bit of granulated sugar, and fresh lime juice. Quick-cooking tapioca is used to thicken the filling rather than cornstarch or all-purpose flour. Unbeknownst to many, the fast-activating tapioca is easily found in the baking aisle. It keeps the cherry filling bright and red, and bypasses a potentially gloppy texture from cornstarch or an unappealing grayish color from flour.

A 9×9-inch baking dish is the perfect-sized vessel for these bars. You can also use a 9-inch cake pan or, in a pinch, a 9×13-inch baking dish (just note the crust, filling, and overall bars will be thinner than pictured, yet still delicious). The bottom crust and lattice top are intentionally thicker, resembling a thick, Scottish shortbread. It makes the bars more substantial and satisfies those cravings for buttery, flaky pie crust in each bite. For best success, use pie weights or dried beans to weigh down the bottom crust to ensure it cooks evenly and retains the shape of the bottom of the pan.

As the bars cool, make a very simple sugar icing of powdered sugar and milk to drizzle on top. Fill a zip-top sandwich-size plastic bag with the icing, snip one corner with kitchen shears, then drizzle over the bars before cutting. Fresh lime zest is used as a garnish to add a zesty hit and amplify the flavor of the cherry filling.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani | Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

If You Make Cherry Pie Bars, a Few Tips

  • Vary the berry. Once you get the handle on these cherry pie bars, feel free to freestyle a bit. Swap out the cherries for frozen blueberries, blackberries, or a berry mix.
  • Play around with the crust. Instead of the lattice crust, you can use star-shaped or round cookie cutters of varying size to cut shapes out of the pie crust and use them to top the pie bars.
  • Make them ahead. These bars can be made a day ahead and set on the counter covered with parchment. You also can make them a couple days in advance and placed in the refrigerator covered with foil. Remove from the fridge and set on the counter a few hours before eating to release the chill. The bars also are freezer-friendly. Cut them into squares and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw them to room temperature before drizzling with fresh icing and sharing with guests.

Double-Crust Cherry Pie Bars Recipe

The classic pie in bar form — perfect for picnics or potlucks.

Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes

Makes 12 to 16 bars

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 2 (14.1-ounce) boxes

    Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough, divided

  • 5 tablespoons

    warm water

  • 3 tablespoons

    quick-cooking tapioca (tapioca granules)

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    frozen (do not thaw) or fresh pitted sweet or sour cherries (about 5 cups)

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    demerara or turbinado sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    milk, plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Line the bottom and two opposite sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper to create a sling. Coat the pan and parchment with cooking spray.

  2. Unwrap the 2 pie doughs from 1 box and knead them together on a work surface into one piece of dough. Place the dough in the baking pan and press into an even layer on the bottom.

  3. Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper larger than the pan. Pour pie weights or 2 cups dried beans onto the parchment and spread into an even layer, including the corners.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights or beans. Return the baking pan to the oven and continue baking until the crust is golden and flaky, 12 to 15 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes while you make the lattice and filling.

  5. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F.

  6. Place 5 tablespoons warm water and 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca in a small bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining filling ingredients; you should have a slightly thickened slurry and the granules will be softened but still visible.

  7. Meanwhile, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out 1 pie dough from the second box (reserve the remaining dough for another use) into a rough 9-inch square about 1/3-inch thick. Cut the square diagonally with a paring knife or pizza cutter into 1/4-inch wide strips. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  8. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lime, then juice the lime until you have 1 tablespoon juice. Place the lime juice, 1 teaspoon of the lime zest (reserve the remaining for garnish), 5 cups frozen or pitted fresh cherries, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and stir until combined.

  9. When the tapioca is ready, add to the cherry mixture and stir until evenly incorporated. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onto the crust in an even layer, leaving behind any accumulated juices.

  10. Make the lattice top crust: Place 7 or 8 of the cut pastry strips diagonally on top of the filling, spacing them about 1 1/4-inches apart. Repeat laying down pastry strips perpendicular to the first set. Weave the strips together, one at a time, going over and under each other to create the lattice or crisscross pattern. Trim off any excess pastry with a paring knife so the pastry fits just inside the baking dish. (If you have extra strips, you can create a border with them if you’d like.)

  11. Whisk 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Brush it evenly over the pastry lattice. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon demerara or turbinado sugar onto the pastry.

  12. Return the baking pan to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking pan and bake until the lattice is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes more. Tent the baking pan loosely with aluminum foil if the pastry begins to brown too quickly. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

  13. Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and pourable, adding another teaspoon of milk if the mixture is too stiff. Transfer to a sandwich-sized zip-top plastic bag and seal the bag. Snip 1/4-inch off one bottom corner with kitchen shears. Drizzle the icing on top of the bars in a zigzag pattern and sprinkle with reserved lime zest. Let sit until the icing is set, about 10 minutes.

  14. Grasping the parchment paper, remove the slab from the baking pan to a cutting board. Cut into 12 to 16 bars.