Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sour Cherry Pie

This here was the 12,000 mile Sour Cherry Pi Day Pie, give or take a few frequent flier miles.

The Alpha Bakers took on fresh sour cherry pie this week.  Collectively, we looked high and low for sour cherries because we are diligent that way.   The options were frozen and canned.  This is not the season for fresh cherries  in the northern hemisphere.   Any one of these cherry choices turn out excellent pie with Rose's Baking Bible recipe.

And that is saying something!  This recipe is calibrated for fresh cherries and yet here we are substituting canned and frozen with pretty spectacular results.  Maybe even dried.

Why are sour/tart cherries so difficult to find?  Chalk it up to regional demand, growing seasons, climate requirements and  the fact loads of sour cherries are juiced and bottled.  

We need to storm the Bastille and demand sour cherries be brought back to market!

First up Rose's cream cheese dough.  It's really fantastic. 

  Iowa grandmother's 100 year old rolling pin.  I so wish I had asked her to teach me to make pies the few times I saw her as a teenager.  What a wasted opportunity.  

She never wanted the handle fixed, preferring to use pressure on the handle-less end to make a perfectly round pie dough for her cherry pies..  

The cherries....finally a delightful market manager offered to call his higher end restaurant contact.  The market has a restaurant next door. I don't know if that means there are different distributors for restaurants vs grocery stores.   

Nearly a week (Thank you, Raymond, for the heads up!)  later, Dave the store manager rang to say the  package of frozen French cherries arrived.  Here's La Frutiere's  web site  Have a look.  They distribute to many countries and have an amazing selection of fruits.. 

Double double toil and trouble

Pie dough chilling in the frig, cherries happily bubbling away on the stove, what could possibly go wrong?  
Evidently everything for someone with no cherry pie making experience..

See all the lovely juice?  It refused to thicken.  I  got out the Thermapen and took its temperature.  Now here's a bit of wonkiness.

The instructions say to boil for one minute.  Cornstarch thickens fruit juices at 212 degrees F/ 100 C .  I watched the fruit boiling and watched the Thermapen degrees go up and down.  Repeatedly.

confused cartoon : Character illustration design. Girl confused cartoon,eps Illustration

I can only guess that even though the frozen fruit was fully thawed, it was still not at room temperature as fresh or canned cherries might have been.  These ultra juicy cherries released even more cold juice during cooking, and it caused  the temperature to fluctuate.  But it still refused to thicken, even when it finally reached 212F. 

Did I start out with too much juice?  

Could this cause the cornstarch to fruit and juice ratio to be off? 

Monsieur Sous Chat  would like to know

"This is not an improper, immaterial and irrelevant question."
Sous Chat likes Perry Mason

If it wasn't for the Alpha Baker FB and Hanaa's excellent suggestion, this would have been a pie disaster and big disappointment for me..   I had already followed Chowhound's  advice to add a grated and squeezed green apple for the pectin.  It helped somewhat but not enough.  The extra cornstarch Hanaa instructed me to add did the trick.

Who knew cherries have different pH levels? And that pH levels and things like acidity levels play havoc with cornstarch, let alone fresh, frozen or canned. What amazes me is all the zillions of home bakers who have churned out gorgeous cherry pies through the years with little more than a bowl and rolling pin.

Suited up in tin foil for the oven

By this time I had zero patience left to putz around with lattice.  Maybe next time it will look like proper lattice.

As for turning mid baking for even browning, didn't happen.

We favor lighter crust anyway. 

Cherry pie not Cherry Compote!
Gratefully thickened

This pie is incredible and even better the next day!.

Which is a near miracle for a first time cherry pie maker winging it with frozen cherries.

My daughter and I did have a giggle reminiscing  over the last time she baked with her grandmother.  It was cherry pie. My mom never made cherry pie, not once, but would bake anything for her cherished granddaughter.  They had so much fun baking  a pie together even if it was with canned cherry pie filling.


Turning leftover pie dough into cinnamon sugar treats.

So good with a cup of tea.


  1. ב''ה

    I'm so glad you were able to find a solution to the thickening. Kudos to Hanna!

    You pie looks great. Now I know what to do with leftover pie dough. :)

  2. I too added a bit more cornstarch because I had more filling than the recipe. We used the same Morello cherries and thus have the same dark filling. :D I too re-use & wash my ziplock bags but only if they are not too oily. I didn't wash this one because I felt it might be too oily after all the butter in it. :)

  3. Excellent first picture! So funny! I wonder if cornstarch has a shelf life. I threw out some because it wasn't performing anymore, and now with the new container, it works fine. Just thinking. Happy that the filling finally thickened for you. IT was a delicious pie after all. Well worth the 11 points per slice (1/10 of a slice)

    1. It was definitely worth the points, for dinner and breakfast the next day. Then I sent it over to my brother who said cherry pie would be his last choice for pie. He liked it! The cornstarch was a brand new expensive GMO free box because Rose said during a panel session that GMO cornstarch played havoc with her cake. It has to be the juice to cornstarch ratio. Maybe I'll see what the cut off point is for thickening bottled fruit juice for fun.

  4. I used the GMO free cornstarch brand as well. Mine thickened fine but I did bake my pie for almost an hour - way longer than recipe calls for. Yours looks grand though - with perfect lattice. I also love the first photo of the cleaned off pie plate!

  5. First of all, I love the look of your pastry crust - it's like a plaid pattern. I also love your opening shot with the empty pie plate - it tells the entire story.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

  6. Vicki, what a tenacious baker you are! You've gone above and beyond to make this pie happen and it's paid off. It's a beautiful pie. I too used frozen cherries and the filling did thicken in the pot but not by much. I attributed it to the frozen cherries releasing extra juices when reheated. Thanks for the tip, I'll adjust my recipe accordingly next time. Thanks Vicki!

  7. A beautiful pie! The cherries are so - red.

  8. I love the opening shot, it does say a lot! How great it is having to roll your pie with the same rolling pin your grandma used!

  9. i love your post! your cherries look so beautiful and dark and juicy. how wonderful to be able to use your grandmother's rolling pin.