4 Tart Michigan baking apples, such as Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Baldwin, Macoun, Northern Spy or Winesap, washed very well
2 Tbsp. Milk
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the dried cherries, pecans, ¼ cup brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Select an ovenproof skillet that measures 9 inches across the bottom and 11 to 12 inches across the top. (A cast-iron skillet works well and makes a home-style presentation.) Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat, and then stir in the other 1/4 cup of brown sugar and cherry preserves. When the mixture is bubbling evenly over the surface of the pan -- 30 seconds or so -- remove pan from the heat.
Do not peel the apples; the peels will help them to hold together. Halve them top to bottom, however, and core each half. (Tip: A melon baller does a good job.) Spoon some of the cherry-walnut mixture into each apple half, compacting it with a finger.
Quickly invert the stuffed apple halves and place them cut side down in the skillet. You should be able to get 6 or 7 around the outside and 1 in the center. Finely dice the remaining apple half, if left over, and scatter the pieces between the apples. Sprinkle the leftover cherry-nut mixture between the apples.
Between two sheets of waxed paper, converge and roll together both top and bottom pie crusts to form one 12-inch circle. After removing the top sheet of waxed paper, invert the pastry over the apples, center it and peel off the other sheet of paper. Lifting the edge of the pastry, either tuck the edge straight down along the inside of the pan or pinch it to crimp the edge. Poke two large vent holes in the pastry with a paring knife, twisting the knife to enlarge the holes slightly.
Lightly brush the pastry with the milk and sprinkle surface with sugar. Place the pie directly on the center oven rack and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake until the top crust is golden brown, another 25 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes or to room temperature before serving. Makes 7 to 8 servings.