Pies & Tarts

Star-Spangled Sour Cherry Pie


Happy 4th of July (for all of us in America that is!) I hope everyone is enjoying a day off spend with friends and family. Although this is not a favorite holiday of mine (too hot and humid here usually), I do love lots of the dessert options it creates. This year I knew I wanted to make something with sour cherries.


June and July is when sour cherries can sometimes be found in my area, and they are a rare treat. I found them at a local farmers market and promptly bought more than I could easily carry. Like their name says, sour cherries are more sour than standard cherries, but their flavor is also much more complex. With a bit of sugar, they make really delicious baked goods.

If you decide to make this recipe, the two most time consuming parts will be finding the sour cherries, and pitting them. I suggest you look at your farmers markets to find them. I have never seen them at the super market in my area.

As for pitting, I highly recommend a cherry pitter. I usually avoid kitchen tools that only do one job (a strawberry huller doesn’t do anything my pairing knife can’t). A cherry pitter also pits olives though, so it technically has more than one use. And it is time consuming to pit this many cherries with a pitter (it took me almost 45 minutes)! I don’t want to know how long it would take without one.


Sour Cherry Pie
Adapted from Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie
Makes one 9 1/2 inch deep dish pie, approximately 8-10 servings

  • One batch of pie dough, well-chilled
  • 2 lbs (about 6 cups) fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  •  2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Milk or cream

Take the larger half of your pie dough out of the fridge and roll into a 13 1/2 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. I like to use a silicone mat on the counter to make sure the dough does not stick. Place your rolled pie dough in a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan and trim off excess overhang, if needed. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place your pitted cherries in a large bowl, if not already (I like to do this as I pit them). Add the sugar, corn starch, lemon zest and juice, and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center of the oven.

Roll out the smaller half your die dough into about a roughly 12 inch circle. For the design I made, lightly fold the circle in half and then quarters and gently mark the center of the dough with your thumb. Unfold and use the mark to make a cut in the center with a star cutter. Use smaller star cutters to make a pattern out from the center, saving the stars you cut out as you work.

Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell, using a pastry brush dipped in milk to slightly moisten the rim. Smooth the top of the filling with a spatula and place the butter evenly over the top.

Carefully invert your top pastry over the filling and center, being gentle so as not to stretch your star cut outs. Trim off excess overhang, if needed. Press the pastries together along the rim. Fold back the edge to form a upright ridge and crimp it between your fingers. Place star cut outs along top of the pie, using a pastry brush dipped in milk to adhere them. (You can cut additional stars out using the overhang.) Lightly brush the entire top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with extra sugar.

Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 and rotate the pie 180 degrees for even browning. Return to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling thickly and the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. You can lightly place a pie of foil over the top of the pie if the crust is browning too quickly.

Allow pie to cool fully on a rack before slicing and serving.

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