Sour Cherry Pie

July 20, 2014

Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My family farm has a couple of cherry trees, and this year we just happened to be in town (its 2.5 hours south of Chicago) when they were ready to pick!  We picked as many as we could in 20 minutes, and got just enough for a pie and some hand pies I made a week later.  Last year we got lucky with cherries, too, and I made this slab pie, which is also fantastic.  It’s always hard to decide what kind of dessert to make when you only get cherries once a year.  Next year, I vow to spend more than 20 minutes picking cherries (someone will have to entertain the children!), so that we have enough to freeze for later.  Then I can make a pie, a slab pie, this sour cherry crumble pie that Aunt Suzy posted about years ago, and this cake that looks really good.

Cherry Picking Cherry Picking Cherry Picking

I found this recipe while reading a Smitten Kitchen blog about a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that I used recently.  The idea is that you bake the crust before baking the pie, so that the bottom crust isn’t soggy.  I like that idea.  It’s what I do with my single crust baked pies, like peach and custard pies, so why wouldn’t I do it with cherry?  The results were just as I wanted…no soggy bottom crust.  Instead it was nice and crisp, buttery and delicious.  Instead of a traditional lattice top, I used a round cookie cutter to make a decorated top.  I could have layered them and added more, because I didn’t think about the fact that they would shrink during baking.  So I recommend putting more on than you think are needed.


Tart Cherry Pie ~ Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in The New York Times

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough

3/8 teaspoon kosher salt

15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1 cup sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted

1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy

3 tablespoons heavy cream, or 1 egg yolk lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water

Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.

1. To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 disks, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

3. While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.

4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.

5. Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.

6. Brush top crust with cream or egg wash and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar (as you can see in photos, I forgot my sugar. Oops.)  Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.


Aunt Suzy says

I love it when things come together for an unexpected treat!   This week’s convergence of forces was triggered by seeing this recipe on Smitten Kitchen.  I wistfully sent it to my brother in Central Illinois because I know about this time of year Margaux’s Aunt Gigi invites them out to pick cherries at “The Big House”.  Wistfully, because I was confident that I would not find fresh sour cherries here in Minnesota.  They are a favorite of mine from childhood – my Mom made great cherry pies – and I have never seen them available here.  But, wait!  Unexpected force #2 was, to my amazement, Prairie Hollow Farm at the Mill City Farmers Market  had fresh sour cherries this weekend.  I snapped them up so I could make this pie, which I did for a get-together with friends Sue and Al.  The pie was a hit!  I will make it again later this week when I visit family where I’ll use those cherries my brother picked.

A note on the quantities and ingredients:   I ended up with a little under 4 cups of cherries once I had pitted them and removed those that were past their prime.   Because of this I used an 8 1/2-inch pie plate.  If you are lucky enough to have more cherries, you can use a 9 or 9 1/2-inch pie plate.  The first quantity in the recipe is for the smaller plate, the second is for the larger.  For the almonds, I recommend that if you have a food processor that you use it instead of chopping the almonds.  This will release their oils, which will give a more pronounced almond flavor which is such a delicious match for cherries.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a pie plate with your favorite single-crust pie dough.  Here’s ours.  Place in the refrigerator until ready for use.

Prepare the crumble:

1/2 cup-2/3 cup whole oats, coarsely ground in a food processor

1/3 cup- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup-1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup-3/4 cup unsalted whole almonds, coarsely ground in a food processor or chopped by hand

5 – 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Grind the oats in a food processor or blender until they resemble a coarse flour.  Place in a bowl and add the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt and whisk together to blend.  Grind the almonds in a food processor or chop by hand, then add to the bowl.  Stir in the melted butter.  Set aside.

Prepare the cherry filling:

2/3 cup-3/4 cup sugar

2-3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups-5 cups pitted fresh sour cherries( or you can use frozen, partially thawed) 

Mix the above ingredients together.

Assemble and bake the pie:

Pour the cherries into the prepared, dough-lined pie plate.  Sprinkle the crumble over the cherries.  Place the pie plate onto the center rack in the pre-heated oven.  Line the oven bottom with foil or place a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie.  Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 30-40 minutes more.  The pie is done when the cherry filling bubbles and the crumble is a little crisp.  Remove from the oven, place on a rack and cool to room temperature before serving.  We all agreed that this pie is best unadorned – no ice cream or whipped cream, although use your own judgment.

 My favorite time to eat pie – breakfast! 

 Or Breakfast of Champions as my sister-in-law, Cindy, likes to say.  Oops!  Tatum beat me to the punch . . . gotta go!