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Cherry Pie Time!!!

Jun 25, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

remember how i bitterly complained about the birds having pecked holes in the sour cherries, leaving them on the ground to rot? well nature once again has proven it's infinite balance! this weekend i discovered 50 perfect bright red unpecked cherries still on the tree! i also found a few currants hidden behind the leaves of the currant bush and overlooked by chipmunks and birds alike. i sprang into action and made what i call a windfall pielet!

i always have some pastry scraps in the freezer so while they were defrosting i pitted the cherries and consulted the chart in my book (the pie and pastry bible) to see how much sugar and cornstarch were needed for each. this is where weighing really comes in handy.

currants need more sugar and more cornstarch than cherries as they are more sour and more juicy as well. i had enough of the small currants to stuff one into each pitted cherry (i call this churrant pie) and the filling turned out to be the equivalent of a 1/4 pie. i used an antique 7 inch red stone pie plate but even a cast iron little skillet would have worked just fine!

we had still slightly warm churrant pie for dessert for dinner and for lunch on sunday. how ironic that the cherry tree i planted in full sun that grew to bear many cherries was struck by lightening, but this scrawny old tree that i didn't even recognize as a cherry tree for many years, hidden in the shade, produced enough cherries at last to enjoy this amazing little treat! by the way, this little pielet took 35 minutes to bake in a 425 degree oven. i protected the edges with foil toward the end. and i didn't prebake the pie crust or the filling--i simply placed the dough leaves on top. it's easier for such a small pie.

the recipe i'm offering here is for a full size one from "the pie and pastry bible."

note: the absolute best way to pit cherries is by hand using a large hairpin. using mechanical devices, the pits which vary in size, can slip through and create a great deal of damage should someone unsuspectingly bite down on one, plus the hair pin technique maintains the beautiful global shape of the cherry. here's how:

search out a large metal hair pin. insert the looped end into the stem end of the cherry and use it to lift out the pit. if you like this technique as much as i do, for future use, imbed the two ends of the hair pin deeply into a cork. i use a champagne cork as it is rounded and fits comfortably into the palm of your hand.

second tip: if you have a wine or root cellar, you can leave the pie dough in it until you are ready to roll it. most cellars are around 60 degree F. which is the ideal temperature at which to roll dough. the sad fact is that when the fresh fruit season is in full swing, it's usually too hot in the kitchen to make a good crust! i recommend countering this by making the dough early in the morning. if it's still cool in the kitchen (or dining/ living room if you are willing to roll it there) proceed to making the pie. otherwise, make the dough early one morning and the pie the following morning for best results.

Designer Cherry Pie

Oven Temperature: Preheat to 425°F. at least 20 minutes before baking.
Total Baking Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes: A 13" pie.







your favorite pie crust for a 2 crust pie



2 pounds. fresh sour cherries, pitted, juices reserved

4 1/2 cups, pitted

26 ounces

737 grams


1 cup +2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

8 ounces

227 grams


3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon

1 ounce

31 grams


a pinch



almond extract

full 1/4 teaspoon



Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes until it is soft enough to roll. Using a pastry cloth and sleeve, rubbed with flour or two sheets of plastic wrap, sprinkled lightly with flour, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch thick circle large enough to cut an even 13-inch circle. (Measure your pie plate from the top of one edge going down the sides, across the bottom and up to the opposing edge and add enough to tuck under for a nice edge—about 1 1/2 inches extra.). Fold this dough under so that it is flush with the outer edge of the pie plate. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. at least 20 minutes before baking time. Set the oven rack in the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.

Prebake the bottom crust:
Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and set a large coffee urn filter or piece of parchment in it. Fill it about three-quarters full with rice or beans and bake 20 minutes. Lift out the parchment with the beans and prick all over with the tines of a fork, but only half way through, i.e. not all the way to the bottom. Return it to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more or until pale golden brown. (5 minutes for a partially prebaked crust). Check after 3 minutes and prick again if the upper layer of dough bubbles up.

Roll the second piece of dough 1/8-inch thick and use a sharp knife to cut out about 18 leaf shapes, 3-inches long. Drape them over little clumps of aluminum foil set on a baking sheet. Brush them with the egg glaze if desired and bake them at 425°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Set them aside.

Place all of the above ingredients (including the reserved cherry juices), except for the almond extract, in a medium saucepan and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes or until the cherries exude enough juice to moisten the sugar. Stir gently until evenly mixed and bring to a full boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer for a minute, or until the juices thicken and become translucent, stirring gently. Remove it from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Pour the cherry mixture into the prebaked pie shell and bake at a preheated 400°F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling all over. If the edges start to brown too much protect them with a ring of foil.

Remove the pie to a rack and while still hot, arrange the reserved pastry leaves over the cherries.

Cool the pie on a rack for at least 3 hours before serving.


Have you ever used preserved cherries? I have so many cherries, I'll be canning some. I wonder - can as a ready made pie filling, or preserve them as plainly as possible and make the filling after...


Thank goodness this recipe is on your site. I work out of state each summer and do not have my cookbooks on hand. This summer, I have a windfall of sour cherries, and my Pie Bible is at home. Internet to the rescue!


Hi Laura, according to the manufacturer's website, the only pastry flour that Arrowhead Mills makes is a 100% whole grain flour. Try to find a white pastry flour or use Wondra, or make your own according to the directions in the Pie/Pastry Bible.


Boy, do I need help! I made the cherry pie and it turned out awful! I'm wondering about the pastry flour. The only thing I could find around here was Arrowhead Mills Organic Pastry Flour. I noticed from the get go that it looked wheatie. This flour didn't behave at all as to what I expected. There is no way this would have come together in a bag. I tried. Finally I just dumped it out and brought it together with my hands. It was very stiff. When I rolled it out, I had to use all of my muscles. But yet, I had to refrigerate it in the middle of rolling because it got sticky. Either it was stiff and cracking or soft like it was going to melt. No middle ground. Needless to say, it was very dark when baked and unpleasant to taste, although it was tender. It was a huge bomb. So, in the future, which would be better..using just Wondra or making my own pastry flour? Do you have any experience using the Arrowhead Mills? BTW, I have years of experience with shortening crusts, so I know it is not me.

Also, since I knew this was a bomb, after three hours I cut into it and it was very runny. Somewhere on your site or in the bible, I read where it was okay to use 1 cut of sugar instead of 1/4 if you like it sweeter. Is that why it was runny? How can I fix that? I'd like to try again.

Oh, somewhere in the Pie and Pastry Bible, it says to prebake the bottom crust for a cherry pie but it doesn't say to on pages 94-95. Would it be better to do that?

Also, I made Woody's Luxury Lemon Cake. The batter was thicker than expected but gorgeous! The cakes came out golden and beautiful like your pictures, although I may have overbaked them just a tad as they had just started leaving the sides of the pan when I took them out of the oven. I haven't assembled them yet so can't give you a report on it. However, my lemon rose is stunning! First time for that.

Thanks for all your help!




brava shannon! i'm so glad you persisted. so many times i am ready to give up on a recipe and then discover the solution and it turns out to be one of my favorites. this just happened with a gooseberry crisp that will be in the upcoming book!


Just remade your lattice top pie and am so pleased with the results! I'm relieved to know that it's an issue with my oven rather than my own skills as a baker.


My lattice skills still need some work, though.

Thank you for your help, Rose!!!


shannon, in the pastry bible i did it just way you did but the filling has to be bubbling thickly. probably your oven was slow. in any case i now recommend cooking it first to ensure that it thickens fully.


I macerated the cherries in a medium bowl w/ the extract, cornstarch and sugar for 3 hours as directed, stirred the mixture afterwards and put it into the pie shell. I feel silly for not cooking this mixture first, but it wasn't listed in the directions. I'll try again with the designer pie method, I knew it had to be something I missed. Thank you very much for your help & promptness!


shannon, i'm sorry to hear this as cooking the filling before baking virtually ensures that it will be thick. cornstarch does not thicken until it comes to a full foil and often it is simmered for another 30 seconds just to be sure. if your filling did not thicken then it sounds like something was wrong with the cornstarch. did it thicken before putting it into the pie shell?


Shannon Tiare
Shannon Tiare
07/23/2012 11:51 AM

Hello, I just made your lattice top cherry pie and I had a problem with the filling. It didn't gel, I baked the pie for over an hour and the filling was still very much liquid. I followed the instructions and formulas meticulously, could you tell me what I did wrong? Was it the cherries I used?


Donna Thomas
Donna Thomas
04/23/2011 03:26 PM

HI, can you tell me where to get those large hairpins? Or what they are specifically called? I see many large hairpins in a web search but not sure which to choose??
Thanks, Donna


Cherry_pie_time_1.. Amazing :)


it's so great to hear from you matthew and so gratifying that you agree with me on that churrant pie! thanks for trusting me on it.


I did get around to making the churrant pie finally (with fruit frozen from the summer), and I liked it even better than regular cherry pie! The cherries do taste plumper and juicier.


try the cherry stop at 800-286-7209


Where can I buy frozen tart cherries for pie? Not in ND! On line? MN? Thanks.


Wow, that is a miracle, I would have never guessed those were frozen!


i can't wait to hear how you like it! i've even used frozen currants and they work well as long as you don't let them defrost.

the miracle of the cover shot for the upcoming book is that i had a vision of bright red currants on the dark chocolate glazed cake bc of the way currants and only currant capture light as if lit from within. the day came for the photo shoot and no currants were in season anywhere in the world HOWEVER, liz duffy, the food stylist, found frozen currants in the freezer from another stylist's job. defrosted they looked as fresh and undeflated as just-picked. see what i mean about miracle?!


Thank you for sharing Rose! I figured you must use a little more of each, so now I won't have to guess. I called my local farm stand, and they said the cherries will be ready in 2 weeks, so I'm counting down the days!


you are so wise matthew! yes you need a little more sugar and cornstarch: for the 1/4 cup/58 grams currants and the 20 oz. 567 grams pitted cherries i use a total of 200 grams sugar (1 cup) and 2 T + 2 1/2t (27 grams) cornstarch.


Other than stuffing each cherry with a currant, are any other adjustments necessary in the sugar or cornstarch for a churrant pie?


Carolyn, I haven't tried all whole wheat flour for a pastry crust -- I usually use about 1/3 whole wheat to 2/3 white flour. I have a feeling that if you go much above 1/2 whole wheat it will be more crumbly, less flaky.

You could try making up a small batch -- say, half of a one-crust recipe or a quarter of a two-crust recipe -- and rolling it out into "pie-crust cookies." Sprinkle tops with cinnamon & sugar -- even if they aren't perfect they'll be fun to eat, and you can see how it works out.

(One of my favorite things when I was a kid was home-made cherry pie from the cherry tree in our back yard -- and we always made "pie-crust cookies" with the scraps left over from the crust. Good memories!)


I've seen it in my supermarket...never tried.


I am going to bake some cherry pies for Valentine's Day. I wanted to know if anyone has used Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for their pie crust, what the results were and, can it be used alone or do I need to add all purpose bleached to it? I would really appreciate ANY HELP!!Thanks


wow good post!! I loved this recipe!


wow matthew--this is invaluable!!!


I just stumbled across a site selling frozen sour cherries. Since I couldn't find any this year, I may give these a try. They come in 20 ounce bags in sets of 4 or 10. Including shipping, that works out to $8.72 a pie for the 4 set or $6.14 a pie for the 10 set, which doesn't seem too bad. Here is the link to their site:

Cherry Stop


Hi Rose, I've also searched in vain for 'sour' cherries ever since I came across this fruit in TCB and other cookbooks! As it is, we only get one type of cherries - fresh or frozen, and they cost a bomb! Then, of course, there's the canned cherries in syrup and canned cherry pie filling! Fruit Perfect is not available here and I doubt I'll be able to order foodstuff into this country!

So given the non-choices, I ended up making your Brandied Burgundy Cherries and Cherry Topping using the locally-available fresh/frozen varieties. Having not tasted the real thing (sour cherries), these already tastes so much more delicious compared to the canned variety! I've used the brandied ones for different variations of black forest cakes, and the topping for cheesecakes. They do have a skin but it is softened with the cooking.

I share Cindy's frustrations, but I guess I'll have to live with the next best thing! So I'll encourage her to try it if she really craves for it without having to wait for a trip to US/France in June!

M getting my Celebrations book soon too - so will look up the canned cherries with wine recipe!


i love the yellow cherries but they're best for eating raw as they aren't as sour or intense as either sour cherries or bing.


If I remember correctly, Rose has a recipe in Celebrations that uses canned cherries and wine. I think it is called winter cherry pie. There is also a cherry product mentioned in the Pie Bible called Fruit Perfect that you might be able to order. Rose has a recipe for using that as well.


Oh cherry pie, that means if I should ever go to the State or France in June. I may have the chance to taste a cherry pie. Will can cherries work for Pie?


Sour and montmorency cherries have been plentiful this summer--I have never seen them go on for so long. Most years, a couple weeks in June, that's it. Anyway, I have made some fantastic pies this summer with your recipes and I like it that you include shortening crust recipes too. I have just bought a quart of yellow cherries. They taste like Montmorency. Have you every worked with them Rose?


even in the u.s., it's close to impossible to get sour cherries frozen unless you get large quantities through food service.
cindy, the dark cherries, aka bing cherries, are not suitable for pie. they have a thick skin for one thing and the flavor wouldn't be right. sour cherries are also known as montmorency and exist in hungary and france. in the us michigan is known as the cherry state.


Oh Cindy, I share your 'problem'! Only one type of cherries available, either from US or Aust/NZ. We also get them frozen, but whether fresh or frozen, they've never been labelled 'sour'!

In any case, to let you know, I've used both the fresh and frozen cherries to make Rose's brandied burgundy cherries, and the cherry topping - they work fine on my cheesecakes and black forest cake.


Hi everybody,
I am in Hong Kong and no cherry is grown here. We have imported cherries for sale in the supermarkets and they are eaten as fruit , rather expensive so no body will make cherry pie. Those imported cherries (mainly from the states) taste sweet if they are dark red or notso sweet if they are just bright red, I have not taste some that are sour.Please excuse my ignorance and enlingten me. What is the sour cherry that u are talking about ? Cherry pie look so pretty but I have never tasted one.:-(


That sounds wonderful, Holly. I didn't realize sour cherries could be grown in Massachusetts. Bet those pies will be excellent!


Hi Rose and everyone,
My wife had a sour cherry tree in her yard when she was little, so she has a good impression of cherry pie even though when you order it at a restaurant it seems to never be any good. Every cherry pie I had ever eaten had a gloopy, super sweet filling that I thought wasn't worth eating.

However this year after searching around a bit we found an orchard very close to Boston with two rows of pyo tart cherries, in season for about 2 weeks after July 4th: http://www.smolakfarms.com

We took a trip out there the other weekend and picked about 30lbs of fresh sour cherries. I wore our 8 month old daughter in a baby bjorn on my chest while picking and she ate lots of cherries off the trees while I was working.

I also got a vintage handcranked cherry pitter off ebay, and churned up just over 2 lbs of homemade cultured butter for crusts. This combined with organic leaf lard and the cherries came together over a few evenings into 6 lattice top cherry pies, using Rose's filling recipe. These all went into the deep freeze for later use, but we made some mini-galettes using leftover pastry scraps and cherries. They were fantastic! Although we realized that I had used 6 cups pitted cherries with the 3/4c of the recipe, the filling wasn't really sweet enough. So we upped the sugar for the last two pies to 1-1/4c, which is at about the same ratio that Rose lists and it came out perfect.

Even with stems on and storing them in the fridge, the fruit was starting to turn within a couple days. It as exhausting making all those pies in just a couple days; maybe in the future we will freeze filling blocks in pie plates so the crust can be made later on...

I put up a little page about making cultured butter at home (which I mainly use for pie crusts) here:

I haven't got any pictures up of the cherry pie effort yet since I don't have the all important final baked pie photo yet.

Anyway, thanks for the Pie and Pastry Bible and your blog Rose.


i agree--canned sour cherries are pallid compared to the in season sour cherries. i have a wonderful cranberry pie in the pie and pastry bible.


Roger Wiggins
Roger Wiggins
12/ 3/2006 08:59 PM

I know sour pie cherries are extremely hard to come by out of season and I have a question for you. I tried canned sour pie cherries and didn't like their soggy texture. Can you think of anyway to add something to canned cherry pie filling to at least hint at that wonderful "sour bite" of real pie cherries for a quick winter fix? I hope you don't think I'm insane for asking. I was thinking along the lines of cranberries for they have a similar sour bite. I don't know if it can be done.


thanks for your delightfully useful contribution. i can see how that would work as it is small enough and sharp enough. now where of where are my fondu forks? well..i have a whole year to find them. good to have a second use for what has become a rarely used item in my kitchen.


I've been making the sour cherry pie from the Pie and Pastry Bible (which is wonderful -- I've always had trouble with pastry and your method, while complicated, works like a charm for me) and thought I'd mention that a fondue fork works really well for pitting. You just stab up by the stem end, and use the tines of the fork to flip the pit out.


kathy, i'm so glad you were able to get the wonderful sour cherries you amply deserve! as for crisco, my goal is not to impose my taste on people but to help them achieve what is closest to their own. taste is just that--personal! it's o.k. to like what you grew up with--eating and taste perception taps into all sorts of things such as emotions and atmosphere--not just taste buds.

i like the sound of the part of the crust that gets moistened by the filling and i love your passion for baking!


bonnie, i'm the one who's going to sound ignorant bc i don't have any idea what you are asking for. you write that you are looking for instructions for making the filling. i assume you mean for cherry pie and the recipe is posted right on the blog including the filling instructions. please explain.


kathy harsany
kathy harsany
07/12/2006 10:04 PM

A little bit of heresy:

Last Saturday I was lucky to find my farmer from Glastonbury (CT) had returned to the Greenwich Farmers's Market - they were late in returning this year due to the tardiness of crops. Anyway, she brought a few pint baskets of the most perfect sour cherries I have ever encountered.

So: the only question in my mind was - which crust to use for my pie? Here's that promised heresy - I prefer a soggy undercrust! That means Crisco! BUT! no Crisco in the house - I had tossed out my can of Crisco two years ago when I read your in your book that it was inferior to butter. So, I did a 50/50 butter and lard (not leaf lard, just the ordinary supermarket mantega) and although it did produce a crust that wasn't tooo crispy, I swear, it did not have as much "taste" as the Crisco crust I grew up with. I must also admit, my very favorite part of a slice of pie is: the part of the bottom crust that meets the juice of the fruit - pure heaven. You just don't get that fruit juice penetration with butter, or even butter and lard.

Maybe after having eaten Crisco crusts for nigh on to 60 years, I'm too old to appreciate quality.....


I may be sounding ignorant but I was looking for instructions on making the filling. I am not sure what to do with the ingredients. The sour cherries are finished at our farm but I was looking for future recipes as I am a fruit pie maniac and have made the wonderful doublecrust raspberry pie from "In the Sweet Kitchen" to spectacular results.


thank you for sharing this gretchen. here it is 2 a.m. and i should be asleep before the big food show tomorrow so this will be my final posting for a few days but i just wanted to tell you that i know just how you feel about those cherries without the stems. amazing how the stems keep them fresh so much longer. but they will survive and revive with the sugar. i just wanted to make sure you knew that if you freeze them, it's best to add about 1/4 cup sugar per 22 ounces. they will actually keep well that way for several years though the color may fade a bit! i always mark on the canning jar that i added the sugar so i remember to subtract it from the recipe. 22 ounces is perfect for one pie and just fits in a quart canning jar.
enjoy! oh god--15 pounds of cherries to pit--i do hope you get some help. promise them pies!


Gretchen Lieb
Gretchen Lieb
07/ 8/2006 10:59 PM


I live in Poughkeepsie, NY and I was able to find a farm with pick-your-own sour cherries on my first call a couple of days ago. This was a snap compared with the dozens of calls I made last fall in order to find quince. I made an appointment to pick some this morning, since the farm is officially closed until their peaches are ripe. It was just me and a small crew of professionals, who were interested in what I was going to do with the fruit since it's so sour in its unvarnished form. The problem is, I've got about 15 lbs of cherries now, plus a heap of rhubarb, and after picking, running the gauntlet at the grocery store, and going to a concert that I'd already committed to attending with a friend, I'm too tired to do anything with the cherries until tomorrow, and I can already see the ones that I picked without stems deteriorating a bit. I had to work hard to stop obsessing about the boxes of fruit during the concert. Tomorrow is another day...

There are lots of orchards in the Highland/Marlborough, NY area that list sour cherries on their web sites, and it's only a couple of hours away from Greenwich, so maybe that will work for you. And perhaps there are orchards with cherries in your area, too. I would gladly share mine if I could get them to you.

The leaf crust is beautiful, and I'm looking forward to trying it. A hair pin does sound like a better pitting tool than my stand-by double pointed knitting needle.


darn! i guess this goes into the "what do they know" category!
in my opinionated opinion i find sour with sugar far more interesting than sweet. no matter how much sugar you add there's always that underlying tinge of delightful sour!


kathy harsany
kathy harsany
07/ 3/2006 06:42 PM


It was too good to be true! I called Stu Leonards to check out the sour cherry situation - actually they have Washington State Sweet cherries this week - oh well, I guess we shouldn't expect the advertising department to know that ("real") cherry pies require Sour cherries, not the sweet ones.

The search continues.....


kate, it's all there are not much math involved at all! first of all, i never heard of a 20 x 12--my instructions are for the standard 18 x 12 so if it is indeed larger just make a little extra.
o.k. here goes:
on the chart on page 490, level 6 says do do 7-8 times the basic formula so go to page 492, the yellow cake base, and multiply everything by either 7 or 8. (if the pan is indeed larger multiply by say 9 but don't fill the pan more than 3/4 inch from the top.)
for the baking powder, see the chart below, level 6, sheet cakes. it says (rather i say) 1 1/4 teaspoons per base. voila--should be no problem.


kathy, my husband tells me he heard an ad for Leonard's in Ct. having sour cherries and encouraging ppl to make cherry pie for fourth of july! i don't know if that's closer to you than NY but just wanted to let you know.


kathy harsany
kathy harsany
06/30/2006 10:01 PM

ohhhh sour cherries, I am so jealous.

Looks like it takes a trip to NYC to find sour cherries - asking for them at the Greenwich Whole Foods is akin to asking for the moon

And a big YES to the hairpin, I keep one in my misc. kitchen drawer JUST IN CASE I find those cherries. Pretty soon, I bet, hairpins will be as rare as sour cherries in Fairfield County CT.


I have a question to post and am not sure where to do that other than to comment on this one.

I want to make a 12x20 sheet cake using your recipe for All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake and am having a hard timing knowing how to convert it to the larger, sheet size. The wedding cake conversions are all for round pans. Can you help? I'm feeling overwhelmed by the math!


p.s. i have used many of the cake bible recipes and they are always GREAT!


It's beautiful!!



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