Tag Archives: Cherry Pie

Sour Cherry Pie

Sour cherries are extremely hard to acquire here in Southern California. They’re coveted by many pastry chefs at the farmers market because they are great for baking and due to the limited supply. Your best options are to pre-order them or to have them shipped to you from Oregon or Utah. Personally, I haven’t had much luck with sour cherries the past few years but I scored some last week at the Hollywood Farmers Market. I bought just enough to make one pie. I explained to my son that a sour cherry pie is a seasonal treat and that it is important to use the best ingredients when making them.

For this pie, I used Grist and Toll’s pie crust recipe. Grist and Toll is a local flour mill in Pasadena that produces high quality flour worthy of such a special treat. Typically I use my own pie dough recipe, but the owner encouraged me to try her recipe and I was pleased with the results. The recipe calls for their Sonora wheat flour. One important thing to note is that the crust browns more quickly then other pie crust recipes, so it is important to keep an eye on the pie and tent it early enough in the baking process to prevent it from burning before the contents of the pie are completely cooked. The only two changes that I made to the pie crust recipe are: 1) I added one additional tablespoon of sugar, and 2) I used a food processor instead of cutting in the butter by hand.

When you buy sour cherries, you can pit them and freeze them until you are ready to use them. They freeze beautifully. This is a great pie for Father’s Day or for the Fourth of July. And if you can’t acquire sour cherries this year, there’s always next year. Enjoy!

Sour Cherry Pie

Yields one 9-inch deep dish pie (about 8 slices)

3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped for seeds
6 cups of sour cherries or tart mountain cherries (washed and pitted)*
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 Grist and Toll’s double-crusted pie crust recipe or your favorite pie crust recipe**
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of sugar crystals
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to  375° .

2. Place the cherries and lemon juice in a large bowl. In a small bowl, add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Pour the dry mixture over the cherries. Stir to combine. Set aside.


3. In a lightly floured workstation, roll out the first pie crust dough into a 12″ inch wide circle, 1/4″ thickness. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t soften. Gently roll the pie crust around your rolling pin and transfer it to your pie dish, draping it over the edges as you unroll it. Press the pie crust down into the dish and cut off any excess crust. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.


4. Place a large piece of parchment paper on your workstation and lightly dust with flour. Roll out the second piecrust dough into large circle, a little bit larger than the last piece. Go a little thinner than 1/4″ thickness. Using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza wheel, cut into 1″ strips. You should have about 12-14 strips. Place the strips in the freezer for about 5 minutes and remove.


5. Remove the pie dish from the refrigerator. Give the cherry mixture a quick stir and pour into the pie crust. Place 6 to 7 vertical strips on the pie, all in the same direction.


6. You will weave the remaining strips in one strip at a time, horizontally, to make it look like an Easter basket.


7. Cut excess dough on the edge. You don’t want the edges to be doughy when baked. Fold over the edge and seal the pie crust. Then crimp the edges using your forefinger from one hand and your thumb and forefinger from the other.


8. Place the pie in the freezer for five minutes. Remove.

9. Using a pastry brush, brush the heavy cream all over the lattice top. Sprinkle with the crystal sugar.


10. Place the pie on a baking sheet and place it on the center rack of the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, tent the edges of the pie with foil to prevent it from browning too fast.

12. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Remove the tent and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

13. Remove the pie out of the oven place on cooling rack for about 1 hour before slicing. Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

* Finding sour cherries may be difficult. Try the farmers market or order them from your local cherry farmer if possible. If you have no other options, you can use frozen tart cherries, but you may need to increase the cornstarch a bit.

** If using the Grist and Toll pie crust recipe, you can make it in the food processor. See pictures below. You want to add all the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and pulse 6-8 times. Add the water vinegar mixture and pulse a couple more times. Then transfer the entire mixture to your workstation and proceed with the recipe as written. If you choose to use another double crust pie recipe, make sure the pie crust can hold up to the juicy filling. I tend to work my piecrust dough a little bit longer to give it more structure when making cherry pies. You still want the piecrust to be flaky and not tough.


Cherry Ricotta Hand Pies

First of the season cherries have arrived in California! Cherries are one of my favorite fruits, in part because the season is so short. Since cherries aren’t available at the market year-round, they feel extra special when they become available. When they’re in season, I especially like to bake them in desserts like muffins and pies. A good cherry pie is crispy and flaky with a nice golden color. When I think back to my first cherry pie experience, oddly enough, it was at McDonald’s.

Back in the 80’s, McDonald offered two different pie options: cherry and apple. They were delicious, deep-fried, individual hand pies. My mom would buy me one after ballet or choir performances and it always made me smile. McDonald’s cherry pie inspired me to make own version, but with a couple changes: my pie is baked instead of fried, and also has ricotta added to cut down on the sweetness. The dough is flaky and the crystal sugar adds a little crunch. There are some steps required before assembling the pies, so please read the entire recipe before you start. Also, you can prepare the pie crust a day in advanced. Enjoy!

Cherry Ricotta Hand Pies

Yields: 4 hand pies


1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 stick of cold butter (cut into cubes)
1/8 cup of cold water
2 cups of pitted red cherries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon of organic cornstarch
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
8 ounces of ricotta, drained overnight in cheese cloth
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg, beaten (divided in half)
2 teaspoons of whole milk
Sugar crystals for sprinkling

1. To make the pie crust, place flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor.

2. Pulse 3-4 times.

3. Add butter, pulse 3-4 times.

4. Add water. Pulse 2-3 times until the dough comes together.

5. Move the dough to work station, gently knead until it just comes together and form into a disk. Do not overwork the dough or it will yield a tough crust.

6. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

7. To make the cherry filling, add cherries to a sauce pan and turn the heat to medium.


8. Cover pan with lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt. Remove lid and stir in the dry mixture until no lumps are visible.

10. Add lemon juice and cook for 2 more minutes.

11. Remove from heat and cool completely. Set aside.

12. To make the ricotta filling, add the ricotta, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and 1/2 of the beaten egg in a small bowl. Stir until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until needed.

13. Take the other half of the beaten egg and 2 teaspoons of milk and whisk. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until needed.

14. It’s time to assemble the pies. Lightly dust a work station with flour. Roll out pastry dough until 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut into 4 inch squares.


15. Add a tablespoon of ricotta filling and a tablespoon of cherry filling on top. Brush with egg wash around the perimeter. Fold over and seal, making a rectangle. Using the tines of a fork to press along the edges to secure the seal.

16. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other four hand pies. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

17. Preheat on oven to 350°. Remove the hand pies from the freezer and score 3 diagonal lines on top of each pie. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle sugar crystals generously on each hand pie. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until nice and golden brown. Place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm.