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Tart Cherry Pie

Tart Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

Cherry pie has always been one of my ‘bucket list’ recipes, along with caramel and macarons and other dishes that I’ve since tackled (or plan to tackle) in the Kitchen Challenge series.

My main obstacle was a pretty big one, the main ingredient in fact: tart cherries (aka sour or pie cherries). Despite our amazing local produce here in Nashville, the hot and humid climate simply isn’t ideal for cherry trees. And, unlike their sweeter cousins, they are notoriously hard to transport, so you don’t often see fresh ones of the regions where they are grown.

Mark down reason #1 I am jealous of Michigan.

Tart Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

Frozen tart cherries are sometimes easier to find, although I’ll be darned if I’ve looked at every grocery within a 10 mile radius and haven’t spotted them yet.

Even my go-to source for hard-to-find food stuffs (aka Tom at Lazzaroli) told me that he could only get them in 40 pound bags.

Uh, no.

Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

Sometimes, though, the universe listens. Shortly after I put it out there that I was desperate to find tart cherries locally (along with the more exotic passion fruit), I got a friendly email from the Cherry Marketing Institute, looking for a few recipes featuring the fickle fruits.

Whether they saw my tweet or simply felt the energy I had put out into the ether, I’ll never know. Needless to say, I enthusiastically said yes, and shortly thereafter a precious package of frozen tart cherries arrived on my doorstep, just ready to be made into pie.

Tart Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

I immediately thawed out a bag and got to work developing a recipe for a classic cherry pie. Sure, you can add things to it if you’re looking for something ultra unique, a splash of bourbon or some citrus zest or whatever else you fancy. But my goal here was simple: to make a basic, classic, and utterly fantastic tart cherry pie.

Frozen Tart Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

With my troubled history with pie crust, the fact that I attempted a lattice-top pie is pretty darn brave on my part.

Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment.

Oddly enough, it was the filling that gave me the most trouble this time, refusing to thicken or over-thickening into a gluey mess. I tested cornstarch, flour, and tapioca. I tested various amounts and even combinations of each. I tested simply folding the thickener in with the cherries and sugar and baking it, but what ultimately worked for me was cooking the filling first on the stove and then pouring it into the crust. That small head-start made all the difference.

Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

3 days, 4 pies, and 8 pounds of tart cherries later, I declared cornstarch the ultimate winner.

Flour thickened nicely on its own without any pre-cooking, but the filling was slightly cloudy in appearance and had an equally muddled flavor that I didn’t love. Tapioca starch, with its crazy thickening super-powers, turned into some sort of cherry glue with a texture more like a fruit snack than cherry pie filling (although people swear by it, so take that as you will). Cornstarch, however, once I established the need to pre-thicken it on the stove, baked up beautifully clear, with a clean, neutral flavor that let the cherries shine. As long as you don’t cut into the pie too soon, you’ll end up with a perfectly structured pie with just the right amount of ooze.

How-to Make a Lattice Top Pie Crust from www.loveandoliveoil.com

Turns out the lattice is much easier than I expected. The edge-crimping still stumps me though, and the first few pies I made were sad excuses for pies, in more ways than one. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I cannot crimp a pie crust to save my life, gave up trying, and went about finding an alternative finishing method. Turns out the easiest possible technique produced the cleanest result: I simply trimmed the crust and the lattice to the edges of the pie tin with a pair of kitchen shears. That’s it. No folding, no crimping, no problem.

Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Top from www.loveandoliveoil.com

If you’re like me and are having a heck of a time locating pie cherries for your bucket-list pie, check out CherryProcessor.com for a list of tart cherry growers and processors with online ordering options.

This recipe can also be adapted to use canned tart cherries, just treat them as you would thawed frozen cherries, thickening the cherries with their juices as instructed. If you can get your hands on fresh tart cherries (you lucky dog, you!) simply whisk the cornstarch with a tablespoon or two of cherry juice and add it to the saucepan with the cherries.

And stay tuned, as now that I’ve conquered the elusive tart cherry pie, I’ve got a few more tart cherry recipes in the works that you’re going to love just as much.

How do you like them apples cherries?

Tart Cherry Pie

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 6 hours

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water, as needed

For Filling:

  • 6 cups (2 pounds) frozen tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • turbinado or raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

  1. FOR CRUST, combine flour, almond flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Spread butter pats evenly over surface. Pulse until butter is broken up into pea-sized crumbles, about 20-25 short pulses. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water and pulse on low speed, drizzling in more water until dough just starts to come together. You may not need all the water. Divide dough into two equal balls (each should weigh about 12 ounces); wrap tightly in two layers of plastic wrap, flatten into disks, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Note: if standard pie crust gives you trouble, try pulsing 2/3 of the flour with the butter until it comes together into a paste (you'll feel like you are overprocessing, but that's ok!) Break up the paste and spread it evenly around the food processor, then sprinkle with remaining flour and give it 5-6 short pulses. Then transfer the dough to a bowl, sprinkle with ice water, and press and fold with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. The dough will be stickier than you may be used to, but after chilling for 1-2 hours it will be perfectly workable.
  2. Remove one disk of dough and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle. Gently ease the dough into a 9-inch-round pie pan. Trim edges flush with the edges of the pan (or slightly longer if you want to crimp the edges). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. FOR FILLING, toss frozen cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Place in a fine mesh strainer or colander set over a bowl to catch any juices. Let sit, stirring occasionally to redistribute the juices, for about 1 hour or until cherries are mostly thawed and 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid has drained out the bottom.
  4. Dump drained cherries into a saucepan with lemon juice. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch into reserved cherry juice until smooth and no visible cornstarch chunks remain. Fold into saucepan with cherries. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring gently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until mixture comes to a boil and juices have noticeably thickened, about 1-2 minutes after the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Pour into chilled crust and return to the refrigerator.
  5. Whisk egg and milk together in a small dish and set aside. You will need this to brush the crust later.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out second pie crust to a 12-inch circle. You can use this as a solid top, or, to create a lattice top, cut circle into 14 1/2-inch-wide strips. First brush the edges of the crust with egg wash. Arrange half of the strips vertically across the top of the pie, with the longest strips in the center. Gently fold back every other strip to a little past the center. Place one long strip of dough horizontal to the other strips across the center of the pie. Unfold the folded strips to lie flat on top of the horizontal strip. Fold back the strips that weren’t folded back last time, place another horizontal strips, then unfold again. Repeat until the lattice is complete. Press down edges of lattice lightly to adhere. Trim to the edge of the pie pan (or, if you have extra overhang, fold and crimp). Brush lattice with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar (if desired).
  7. Refrigerate pie while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Set pie on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow) and bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If, after about 20 minutes or so the edges of the crust are already browned, cover the edges with a thin strip of foil to keep them from burning.
  8. Remove pie from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Don't be tempted to slice into it early or you'll end up with a juicy mess. The pie needs at least 3 hours to properly set. You'll know when it's completely cooled when the bottom of the pie pan is no longer warm to the touch.
  9. Slice and serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious recipes with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.

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44 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 4:23 am

    I’ll admit, I’ll never likely make a lattice pie crust but OMG if I need to have one, I’ll pay you whatever it takes b/c that’s the most beautiful lattice crust Ive ever seen! Pinned!

    About 6 mos ago I was sent, get this, 10 lbs of sour cherries. I did everything I could think with them so I was chuckling at your comment they’re hard to come by. I think I still have 2 lbs in my freezer :)

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Could this look any more perfect? So beautiful!

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Your pie is absolutely stunning!! I think next time you’ll just need to come to Michigan to pick them yourself. ;)

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Cherry pie is on my bucket list too. As well as learning how to make a lattice crust which seems so daunting to me but you made it beautifully! 

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Your lattice crust looks so freaking perfect!!! I’m so envious. Love this recipe!

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:04 am

    What a gorgeous pie! It looks absolutely delicious!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Well if that isn’t the most amazing cherry pie I ever did see, I don’t know what is!!

    Reply

  8. 8
    Bonnie
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:27 am

    That is one beautiful cherry pie. That lattice looks precision-measured! I agree about the cornstarch, and I too have given up on crimping. No matter how pretty it is raw, it melts into blobs in the oven. But it always tastes good, and that’s what it’s all about.

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I’m in love with your pie!

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

    When I was home in upstate NY I went cherry crazy. I picked tons of sweet cherries, but when it came to the tart cherries I stayed away. I’m an eat-while-I-pick U-pickers and obviously tart cherries are no fun for that area. But I regret not doing it because I so badly want to make a tart cherry pie now!

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Hi there,
    So happy I found your blog. Excellent recipes, great writing, and BEAUTIFUL photography. 

    Is your friend doing your photography or have you mastered the art? Such a nice job.

    I see you use almond flour in crust. Is the texture and taste significantly different than an all-flour crust?  

    I too love tart cherries but haven’t found a source here in the Northwest land of Rainier cherries (ok, we have Rainiers but they are just as expensive  as everywhere else:-( ).  Thanks for the link for sources.

    Would be great to see photos on weaving lattice. You did a fabulous job.

    Enjoy the fruit of your labors! Look forward to reading more about your kitchen cherry adventures!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 9:11 am

    This pie is absolutely stunning. Not only do I want a slice of pie now, but I also have the urge to go make a lattice pie ;)

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 9:27 am

    What a perfect pie! I’ve never had much luck with homemade crusts either, but this one looks incredible. Can’t wait to see more cherry recipes! :)

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Everything about this is STUNNING. I think these may be my favorite pictures of yours ever (and that is saying a LOT!) :) 

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Wow yummy yummy tart .love the juicy filling.wonderful tart

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

    This is absolutely stunning. 

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Your pie (and lattice work!) looks beautiful, Lindsay. One trick that I learned from America’s Test Kitchen is putting a grated granny smith apple in pie fillings that tend to me runny (blueberry, cherry). The pectin in the apple keeps things together and you can usually use less corn starch. And the apple – because it’s grated – just melts away when cooked and you can taste or see it. You should try it sometime! Just thought I would pass this little trick along! 

    Reply

  18. 18
    HeatherHR
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 11:06 am

    I just recently realized that we live in the same city now (I moved back to Nashville this year) and I got so excited when I saw this blog. Tart Cherries in Nashville- Where do I shop?! Sad that we can’t get the fresh here but thanks for the link to shippers!

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Holy Pie Crust!  That should be on the cover of Pie Monthly!  Beautiful….

    Reply

  20. 20
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    It looks absolutely perfect!

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    That is one mighty fine looking pie crust! Yum!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    What a perfectly gorgeous pie with the lattice on top! You make it seem so easy that anyone would want to try… Pinned for later!

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On August 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I stalked our farmers market like a mad woman on the prowl for tart cherries this year and was finally rewarded when I showed up at the crack of dawn. SO worth it (I baked a tart cherry pie too!) I loved hearing about the different methods you tried to perfect it. Thanks for taking us on this sweet (or should I say tart?) journey with you!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On August 15, 2014 at 5:49 am

    This pie looks just perfect!

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On August 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I bet that almond flour really adds a nice, deep flavor to the crust. Beautiful lattice work! I’ll be waiting around for the leftovers :)

    Reply

  26. 26
    Lou Ann
    Posted On August 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Costco has wonderful dark tart cherries!!!

    Reply

  27. 27
    Posted On August 15, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I was a Michigander for 23 years and never learned to like cherries, at this point I don’t think I will ever enjoy them. Your pie, however, is perfection itself!

    Reply

  28. 28
    Dani H
    Posted On August 15, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Cherry pie is my favorite, but I’ve never made it ~ this sounds like a fool-proof recipe and looks divine!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Posted On August 16, 2014 at 10:06 am

    This looks soooo beautiful and delicious! Your lattice work is just amazing, I totally need to make pie like this!

    Reply

  30. 30
    Hana
    Posted On August 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Hi, made this last night? The filling was great, but the dough was too pasty  couldn’t really work with it, doing the top layer was almost impossible as it kept breaking into my hands, had to add half a cup of flour to make it more firm..  Any ideas what went wrong with it? It was at least 3 hrs in the fridge.
    Thanks 

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On August 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

    What an absolutely beautiful pie!! I’ve been lucky enough to get a bunch of tart cherries this summer by doing U-picks (while on vacation, because both places were 4+ hours from home), but last summer I was astounded that, living in Michigan, I could not find a single fresh tart cherry! Elusive little buggers, huh?

    Reply

  32. 32
    Rosey
    Posted On August 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Here in south central PA our sour cherry crop was entirely wiped out by frost. Broke my heart.

    Reply

  33. 33
    Karen
    Posted On August 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Gorgeous pie!!! My favorite. I would say you nailed it!

    Reply

  34. 34
    Posted On August 18, 2014 at 7:15 am
  35. 35
    Posted On August 18, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I live on Michigan, cherry capital of the world,  and I only found sour cherries once this year. So disappointed!  But I made good use of them and also crossed sour cherry pie off my list. Cornstarch always wins for me. 

    Reply

  36. 36
    Posted On August 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    All your diligence paid off! What a gorgeous pie!!

    Reply

  37. 37
    Posted On August 19, 2014 at 6:47 am

    This looks absolutely perfect, and delicious! :)

    Reply

  38. 38
    Posted On August 22, 2014 at 6:37 am

    That might be the most beautiful lattice I’ve ever seen! With all those pies you’ve made sounds like you should’ve gone with the 40 pound bag! ;) 

    Reply

  39. 39
    Kim
    Posted On August 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

    My daughter’s mother-in-law has a tart cherry tree in Murfreesboro! Some years it doesn’t produce well, but when it does she has a zillion pounds of them. Tiny, and so tart they’ll make your mouth pucker :-). They make the BEST cherry pies! So, plant yourself a tree – you’ll have to fight the birds for them and they’re the devil to pit, but totally worth the trouble. And if they’ll grow in the ‘boro, they’ll grow in Nashville!

    Reply

    • Posted On August 24, 2014 at 10:40 am

      If we hard a yard I’d totally plant one. Alas… condo living isn’t exactly conducive to fruit trees. Oh well. :)

    • Kim
      Posted On August 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm

      Yep, a cherry tree is a little big for container gardening. If Sharon has a bumper crop next year, maybe you can come down to pick some for a blog post :-).  When it’s really producing, she’s usually looking for volunteers, lol.  My husband and I picked a couple of years ago when the crop came in while they were on vacation — it was so worth the effort even in the June heat!

  40. 40
    Posted On August 27, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Gorgeous! What stunning photos of your beautiful lattice crust.

    Reply

  41. 41
    Sarah
    Posted On November 16, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    For folks with nut allergies, would you recommend substituting vanilla extract for the almond extract in the filling, or omitting the extract altogether? Thanks!

    Reply

    • DeLynn
      Posted On November 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      Sarah–I am not Lindsay :) but thought I’d weigh in. One of my sons has a tree nut allergy. One year I made cherry pie with vanilla instead of almond extract. It was ok, but not as good as the traditional cherry pie. My son didn’t love the pie anyway, so now he just eats other pies at Thanksgiving. :)

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