May 29, 2021

Sour Cherry Pie


For the past few years it's been a family tradition to go cherry-picking in the month of May.  My parents literally live down the road from a u-pick farm which primarily grows the Coral Champagne and Tulare varieties.  There's nothing better than hand selecting the sweetest and firmest fruits right off the tree branches.  While the sweet cherries grown locally are perfect for snacking, when it comes to baked goods I prefer the sour variety.
At a springtime luncheon I hosted a few months ago a friend brought along a Sour Cherry Pie for dessert that was utterly delicious.  Unfortunately it's difficult to find fresh or fresh frozen sour cherries  in California and when I looked into having the frozen ones shipped from the Midwest or Washington state the costs were too exorbitant. 

Then I remembered seeing canned sour cherries at the supermarket, in the same location where the pie fillings were located.   I particularly like this brand because the fruit is packed in just water, no added sugar or other preservatives.  Using a Stella Parks filling recipe I added in sugar, tapioca starch, lemon juice and salt to the cherries.  When it came to the crusts of course I used my favorite one with vodka which guarantees the flakiest crust. 

I brought the pie to a recent Memorial Day barbecue and it got rave review from my family which aren't easy to come by.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how it would be received since I'd never made a sour cherry pie before but I was very happy with how much my family loved it.  Now that I know I can make cherry pie any time of the year this definitely will NOT be just a summertime dessert.
Sour Cherry Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup vegetable shortening , cold, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka, cold
1/4 cup cold water

3 14.5oz cans sour/tart cherries packed in water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

Egg Wash
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream and a pinch of salt

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no un-coated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into 2 even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs plate in place and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Roll out second disk of dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 11-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using 1 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough.   Place on rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Place another rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400°F.

Pour cherries into a fine mesh strainer and drain water completely.  Place drained cherries into a large bowl and add in lemon juice, sugar, tapioca starch and salt.  Fill the dough-lined pan with the cherry mixture.

Top with the second dough round and press over cherries to minimize excess space between cherries and crust. Press the top and bottom crusts together and trim the top crust to a 1-inch edge around pan. Tuck top edge under bottom edge and crimp or decorate as desired. Cut four vents in the top crust for steam. Refrigerate pie for 30 minutes to set the crimp.

Brush the top crust with the egg wash. 

Place pie on the preheated rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust begins to turn golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate sheet, move to center rack, and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and you can see the thickened juices bubbling and internal temperature of filling reaches 213F, about 30 to 40 minutes more.  Cool on a rack 3 to 4 hours to allow juices to set before slicing.


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