I didn’t grow up in a cherry pie family. My folks somehow always served deserts with a little less Americana attached: rhubarb crisps, blackberry pie, chocolate-dipped strawberries. I had never even tried the stuff until a few years ago simply because it wasn’t on my dessert-deliciousness radar.
But when I was pregnant, most of the 50 pounds I gained came from the refrigerated desserts section at the grocery store. 6.7 of those pounds were due to slices of cherry pie. Not even good cherry pie—it was the gooey, gloppy, too sweet junk stuffed between two pieces of dry, over-baked crust. I don’t know why I liked it. I don’t know why I ate it. I don’t know why I ended up in that same section night after night, tossing aside plastic containers full of Boston cream and apple tarts to reach the very last piece of cherry goo. And when I found it, there was nothing you could do to prevent me from inhaling that sucker while watching Gilmore Girls reruns.
I still watch the Gilmore Girls reruns. But I no longer buy cherry pie at the grocery store–no, siree. I am proud to say that I make a killer cherry pie, and it is neither gloopy nor gloppy. It has no artificial anything, no crumbly crust, and it tastes fresh and summery. You want to make this pie. You need to make this pie.
First, let’s get the crust started so it has time to refrigerate while we’re making the filling. You’ll need two packages of cream cheese and two sticks of butter, both at room temperature. Cream them together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Slowly add some flour and mix just until the ingerdients have incorporated evenly.
Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Boom. Crust done.
For the filling, you’ll need pie cherries (sometimes called “sour” cherries—they can be found frozen most times of the year and fresh during the summer), sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and a bit of salt.
Combine all of the ingredients together in a large saucepan and stir. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently.
As soon as the cherries begin to emit some juices the mixture will become more liquidy. When this happens, turn up the heat to medium-high, still stirring frequently. Within a few moments it will thicken and look remarkably like pie filling. Remove from heat.
Halve the crust, leaving the other half in the fridge, and roll out into a large disc that is about 1/4″ thick. Don’t worry about the thickness too terribly much—pie making is not an exact science.
Lightly press into a greased pie pan and trim the edges. Prick several times with a fork to prevent shrinkage.
Pour in the filling…
…and then roll out the remaining crust and place over the top.
Pinch the edges together with your fingers, or could could crimp them with the tines of a fork.
Wait, no—not perfect. We need to let heat escape from the pie so it doesn’t explode in the oven.
Now it’s perfect. I like to use a cookie cutter to make a design in the middle, but you could also make a few slits with a sharp knife.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and no longer doughy looking.
This pie belongs on the 4th of July.
I like to serve it with a little scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
I adore this crust, and I use it for everything—pot pies, fruit tarts, quiches. It’s not the traditional buttery, flaky crust found in most pastry cookbooks. It’s more solid, but tastes a bit creamy from the addition of the cheese and still melts in your mouth. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make.
And the filling. Oh, my, the filling. The cherries retain some of their original tart flavor so it’s not overly sweet. The fresh, slightly sour flavor compliments the creamy crust perfectly.
My name is Jenny, and I have been clean of the refrigerated desserts section for 15 months, two weeks and eleven hours.
Unfortunately, I’ve been on homemade sour cherry pie for 2 days, 3 hours and….right now.
Sour Cherry Pie with Cream Cheese Crust
Pie cherries, or sour cherries, can usually be found in the freezer section of better grocery stores or canned on the baking aisle. In the summer you can find them fresh at farmers markets and gourmet grocers. If you do use fresh sour cherries, be sure to wash, stem and pit them first. For canned, rinse and drain. Makes one 9″ pie.
Special Equipment: stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, rolling pin.
For the crust:
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature (not reduced fat or light)
- 2 sticks salted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
Cream together the butter and the cream cheese in the stand mixer. At low speed, slowly incorporate the flour and mix until the dough has come together and all the flour is incorporated. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
For the filling:
- 6 cups fresh or frozen pie cherries (or “sour” cherries)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the cherries lose some juice and the mixture becomes more liquidy, increase heat to medium-high, still stirring often. Bring the mixture just to a boil and then remove from heat.
To assemble the pie:
Preheat oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough (leaving the other half in the refrigerator) into a round disc that is a little less than 1/4″ thick. Grease a 9″ pie pan with cooking spray or butter and lightly press in the crust from the middle outward. Trim the edges to fit the pan and prick all over with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Pour in the prepared filling.
Roll out the remaining crust in the same way and place over the top of the pie. Trim the edges and pinch them together with your fingers or crimp with the tines of a fork. Make a few slits in the top crust with a sharp knife or use a cookie cutter to remove a piece of the crust from the center. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until crust is golden and no longer doughy looking. If edges are becoming too brown, cover the edges with foil and continue baking.
Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with vanilla bean ice cream if desired.