It’s no secret that I have a love affair with sour cherries. As August rolls around every year, I make a point to get to one of Buffalo’s many farmers markets and stock up on them. A week ago, I bought as many as I could get my hands on and turned them into jam, martinis, and pie. This post is about perhaps the most satisfying of the three: the pie!
But as gorgeous as these local sour cherries may be, the crust is the most important part of any pie.
I know that everyone and their mother has their own recipe for pie crust. My mother and I routinely bicker about which crust recipe to use––she insists on using an old vegetable shortening recipe from her Polish mother which I have taken to calling the “depression era crust”––and I’ve really taken to the more recent Foolproof Pie Crust from Cook’s Illustrated. I made it for the first time during the Thanksgiving season a few years ago and it hasn’t failed me since. Its secret ingredient, vodka, allows the crust to roll out so smoothly and without cracking while still baking into flaky buttery perfection.
Onto the filling, which I kept pretty simple––with only a few crucial additions. I browned a half stick of butter in a pan, added a few handfuls of the pitted cherries, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a bit of sugar and fleur de sel. Once everything looked juicy and bubbly, I added a cornstarch slurry mixed with a minute amount of almond extract and let the filling thicken. After letting it cool, it gets poured into that buttery crust and placed in the oven for a bit over half an hour. The color is remarkable, as is the flavor, and it is best served with just a spoonful of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy while you can!
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons ice cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup ice cold vegetable shortening, diced
- 1/4 cup ice cold vodka
- 1/4 cup ice cold water
- 4 cups of sour cherries, pitted
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 pinch of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a splash of water & a drop of almond extract
- For the pie crust: Pulse the dry ingredients (minus one cup of flour) a few times in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 5 times until crumbly. Add the remaining cup of flour and pulse 5 more times. Dump into a mixing bowl and sprinkle over the vodka and water. Using a rubber spatula, mix with a folding motion until the dough comes together. Gather into a ball, cut in half, and wrap each crust (this recipe does make two crusts) in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- For the filling: Heat a sauté pan on medium and add the butter. Swirl until the butter just browns, and immediately add the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. After the cherries release juice, pour in the cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened: about two minutes. Allow to cool.
- To assemble: Preheat the oven to 375º F. Roll out one crust to just larger than your pie pan (I actually used a tart pan with removable sides/bottom), drape it over your rolling pin, and lightly press into the pan. Pour in the prepared filling, smooth, and place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling appears set.