If you've never experienced the joy of sour cherry season, you're not alone. Available for few brief blink-and-you'll-miss-them weeks at the beginning of June, sour cherries (also called pie cherries, or tart cherries) are the lesser-known cousins of the sweet cherries we all know and love from the late summer. Prepping for a four month stint overseas last June, I managed to miss the entire sour cherry season and vowed to make up for it this year.
While you may find sour cherries available at your local farmer's market this time of year, I was lucky enough to get some hands-on picking experience at Hollin Farm in nearby Delaplane, VA. A beautiful plot of rolling hills just 1 hours from DC, Hollin Farm had strawberries, cherries and a few early raspberries on offer as well as a few early summer veggies for picking. It's also conveniently adjacent to several local wineries if you feel the need to stop off for a quick tasting on the way home, like we did. :)
While I debated for awhile what to do with the quarts of strawberries I'd picked, I knew immediately that these cherries were meant for a pie. I also figured it was about time to try my hand at making a crust from scratch again. I usually go with store-bought crusts, since mine never seem to measure up in taste or texture despite all of the hard work and heartache. This time I decided to try a recipe from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Alana Chermila's The Homemade Pantry.
|My first lattice top pie!|
Folks, we may have a winner :) Flaky but not too flaky and neutral enough in flavor not to overwhelm the pie, I was a big fan of this crust. I would only note however, this recipe calls for vinegar as the only liquid, but there was no way this crust was ever coming together without a little cold water. I'm not sure exactly how much I added but it was at least 5 tablespoons, so you'll have to experiment.
I have to say I absolutely loved this pie and already can't wait for next year's sour cherry season!
Basic Pie Crust
from The Homemade Pantry
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Cut the butter into half-inch squares and combine with the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your hands, toss the mixture to coat the butter in the flour. Put the bowl in the freezer. In a measuring cup, combine one-third cup water, the vinegar, and salt. Stir until the salt dissolved and put the measuring cup in the freezer. Freeze both mixtures for 10 minutes.
2. Take the mixing bowl out of the freezer and blend the mixture on low speed with the paddle attachment until it starts to become the texture of crumbly meal. take the measuring cup out of the freezer and, with the mixer still running on low speed, slowly pour the wet mixture into the bowl. The dough will be crumbly at first, then after 10 or 20 seconds, it will come together in a ball. Stop the mixer
3. Turn the dough out onto the counter and press it together into a large disc. Cut the dough into two equal parts, wrap each piece in waxed paper, and press each into a disc. refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to three days.
4. Grease a 9-inch pie dish with butter and lightly dust with flour. Take the dough out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out. Unwrap the dough and place one of the discs on a lightly floured counter. Starting from the center, roll the dough into a circle about 12-14 inches in diameter and 1/4" thick.
5. Fold the crust in half then fold that semicircle in half again so that you have a quarter of a circle. Line up the corner of the quarter with the center of your pie dish and unfold the quarter into a semicircle, then into a full circle.
6. Fill the crust with your pie filling. Repeat the rolling process with the second disc of dough, and either lay it on top of the filling, or cut in strips to form a lattice. Brush top crust with 1 Tablespoon milk and dust with remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar. Use your fingers to crimp the edge of the dough along the circumference of the pie dish.
Sour Cherry Pie
adapted from Epicurious
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons quick-cook tapioca (can substitute cornstarch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries (about 2 pounds whole unpitted cherries)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon (about) milk
1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Whisk 1 cup sugar, cinnamon, tapioca (or cornstarch, if using), almonds (if using), and salt in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cherries, lemon juice, vanilla and almond extracts; set aside.
2. Transfer filling to dough-lined dish, mounding slightly in center. Dot with butter. Top pie with remaining crust or lattice strips as directed below.
3. Place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, covering edges with foil collar if browning too quickly, about 1 hour longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.