How to Make a Fresh Sour Cherry Pie

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My husband and I have become pretty famous among our friends for our sour cherry pie. (And jam, but that’s a story for another time.) I love this pie, and I love to serve it on Fourth of July weekend. It’s so darn American, isn’t it?

Here’s a video where I show you my no-fail pie crust recipe, and my very special method of pitting cherries. Oh, and the oven almost explodes, too. Good times.

Hope you enjoy the video, and please — if you make the pie, comment here and let me know how it turned out! I’ll be watching the blog all weekend, so if you have questions, post them here. Happy Fourth!

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After the jump, the recipes for No-Fail Pie Crust and Sour Cherry Pie.

No-Fail Pie Crust
Adapted from Saveur magazine, which said it was their adaptation of a pie from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Pie and Pastry Bible” (Scribner, 1998).
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
9 tablespoons cold cream cheese
12 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ice water
1 egg
Splash of milk
Sugar for sprinkling

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and put on a plate. Put the plate in the fridge. Place flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Use your fingers to pull chunks of cream cheese from the bar and throw into flour mixture. Pulse a couple of times until the mixture begins to resemble coarse meal. Add the cold butter to the bowl of the processor. Pulse until mixture is flecked with pea-sized pieces of butter. Sprinkle in vinegar and ice water, pulse a couple of more times. Pinch the mixture to see that it holds together. Dump the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. It will not have come completely together yet. Quickly knead dough until smooth. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other, flatten each into a disk and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Roll larger dish onto a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch round, then ease into a 9-inch pie pan. Stir filling, then transfer to pastry. Roll remaining dough out into a 10-inch round. You may either cut into lattice or bake as a top crust. Beat egg with milk and brush over the top crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Sour Cherry Pie

1 recipe pie crust
4 cups sour cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter, optional

Make the pie crust. Line a 9-inch pie pan with it.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine cherries, sugar, flour, almond extract, vanilla extract and vinegar in a bowl. Dot with butter, if you like. (I never do.)
Cover with a top crust and seal edges. Cut slits in the center to allow steam to escape. Brush it with the egg-milk mixture, if you like.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until pie filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Yield: 1 pie.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is the food editor of The Journal News and LoHud.com, for which she's won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

18 Comments

  1. Herb DeLyser on

    Hi,
    I tried this recipe yesterday and really like it. I think our oven runs a bit hot as the crust ended up a bit darker at 400 degrees.
    I’ll make another one Tue. as we are having guests. I’ll use 375 this time.
    We have access to early sour cherries in this area and they are a bit sweeter than the regular sours that will be ready in about 2 weeks. We freeze them for use year around. My wife prefers sweet cherry pie as that is what her mom made. I grew up eating tart cherry pie.

    Thanks again for a good recipe and nice video.
    Dorine and Herb

  2. Hi,
    Do you drain the cherries or use the juice that comes with them? I pull the cherries off the tree leaving the pit on the tree, but theres a couple cups of juice in the container with them. ]
    Thanks!

  3. Hi Tamara, I’m sorry.. I was on vacation and didn’t see your comment until now. I do not drain the juice. If they’re especially juicy, though, you might want to add just a little more flour. But I really don’t mind the juice in the bottom of the pie dish, either….

  4. Hi,

    Your recipe calls for almond extract, but you talk about adding cherry extract on the video when making the filling (maybe I’m just hearing things!). Which one do you add?

    Can’t wait to try this!

  5. Love your recipe!

    There is a cherry pitter called Progressive International Cherry-It Multiple Cherry Pitter
    by Progressive International. It is very efficient by pitting 4 cherries a time. You will love it!

  6. WOW!!! This is a great recipe!!! Followed it almost completely! Ran out of cream cheese for the crust (had 6 tblsp. vs. 9 so added 1 extra tbsp. of butter) crust turned out just fine-perfect actually :) Did a lattice crust-everyone was so impressed. When putting the cherries into the pie I didnt drain the juice but didn’t use all of it either. Turned out great! Did I mention I’m not an expert baker so I was really excited this turned out! Took it into work (since a lady from worked picked the cherries I offered to bake them into a pie) Great Teamwork,lol. Thanks for the recipe it is awesome.
    -Kamila

  7. Hi
    I know this is an older post, but I ran across it in a search for “Sour Cherry Pie recipe.” I heard Lynne Rossetto Kasper say on her show last week that almond paste in the bottom of a tart cherry pie would be good and cherries are my FAVE fruit and I’ve been thinking of it ever since. So I went on a hunt for a good (easy) sour cherry pie recipe. And I’m going to try out yours. Your blog is great and I appreciate the video tutorial. I’ll let you know how it goes. If I can find fresh sour cherries in Memphis.

  8. I used my own crust but used the filling recipe with fresh sour cherries my neighbor brought over. It was a smash hit. Everyone couldn’t believe how great it was. Even I was amazed since I don’t make that many pies. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. Wonderful recipe, Thanks! My cherry tree yeilded a nice ripe batch for this pie. I omited the vinegar in the crust and filling. Just used 3 tblsp. ice water instead of 2 in dough. I love almond flavor and added a smidge to the ice water before adding in food processor. In the filling, vanilla extract is typical, but also adding a 1/2 cap full of cherry and almond extract made it super special. I did add alot more flour to my filling. More like 3/4 cup. I like it gooey, not runny. I did add the butter slices on top of the filling before covering with crust. The egg and milk wash brushed on top turned out excellent, I sprinkled sugar on top too. Except, I waited until the last 20 mins to do this step. Perfectly golden brown! It really is a no fail recipe, the cream cheese really makes the crust! An hour was perfect at 375. Oh, and in the video, her dough cracked. I remember the general rule of thumb with pie dough is to add 1 more tblsp of ice water if it is too dry and crumbly. Sometimes I have added 2 more if it is a dry day. Then it shouldn’t crack. It also may have been because she didn’t appear to use 9 tblsp of cream cheese as she has writtten. I am no longer scared to make homeade crust. Thanks again, very delicious!

  10. I can’t wait to try this recipe for the 4th of July! I have some sour cherries from my tree that I just froze with sugar. When I make this should I omit the sugar for the filling since I froze them with sugar already?

  11. Chivonne, you won’t need as much sugar, no.

    I would suggest tasting a cherry or two with some juice and see if that’s sweet enough. Keep in mind that when things are cold they don’t taste as sweet as they do when they’re warm!

  12. liz, i love your reciped but especially your natural way of teaching! you are a star! i found myself chuckling along with you.

  13. Had the chance to get fresh, organic sour cherries and was looking for a good recipe. I made this pie three weekends in a row and got rave reviews from all I served it to. My first double-crust pie I think! My neighbors and friends are all excited for tart cherry season to come back next year. Great recipe, thanks for sharing it.

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