Sweet-Cherry Pie

June 24, 2011

I was going through old pictures on my computer and I came across this pie I made last summer way before I ever started blogging! Unlike most cherry pie recipes, which call for sour cherries, this recipe from the June/July 2010 issue of Cook’s Illustrated uses much more widely available sweet cherries and makes some modifications to account for their very different flavor and texture. Sweet cherries are much firmer than sour cherries and are perfect for eating fresh, but that means that they don’t break down into a juicy pie filling as easily as sour cherries. Adding more sugar draws out moisture but would make the pie too sweet overall, so this recipe adds a secret ingredient: a small amount of pureed plums for tartness and juiciness. Topping the pie with a solid crust rather than the traditional lattice crust also helps to keep moisture in.

Although I usually think that Cook’s Illustrated provides excellent tips and techniques for cooking and baking, I’m less than impressed with their “foolproof” pie dough recipe. They add a flavorless alcohol such as vodka (which readily burns off in the oven) to make the dough easier to work with, but I find that the extra liquid makes the dough far too soft and delicate and that it tears when I try to roll it out. I may be doing something wrong, but I think I’ll stick with my trusty pie dough recipe from Gourmet Today. The problem with stiffer pie dough is that if you end up overworking it and the fat warms up, it becomes tough and no longer flaky. However, I’ve never had issues with the Gourmet recipe despite it being a stiffer dough. That may be because I use a food processor to cut in the butter and shortening rather than my fingers. I’ve provided the Gourmet dough recipe below, but if you’d like the softer Cook’s Illustrated version, please comment and I’ll add it in!

Sweet-cherry pie

Makes one 9-inch pie



  • 2 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4  cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 5-7  tablespoons ice water


  • 2  red plums, halved and pitted
  • 6  cups (about 2 pounds) pitted sweet cherries, halved
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1  tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2  teaspoons bourbon
  • 2  tablespoons instant tapioca, ground
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2  tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water


For the crust

  1. Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a food processor (you can also use your fingers or a pastry blender) just until mixture resembles course meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture. Pulse (or gently stir with a fork) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing (or stirring) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
  2. Turn dough out onto a work surface. Divide dough into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together and divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Form each portion into a ball and flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  3. Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round (keep remaining piece refrigerated). Fit into pie plate. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Refrigerate while you roll out dough for top crust and prepare filling.

Filling and assembly

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Process plums and 1 cup halved cherries in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Strain puree through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids. Stir remaining halved cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, bourbon, tapioca, and cinnamon into puree; let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer cherry mixture, including all juices, to dough-lined plate. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Roll out second disk of dough on lightly floured surface into an 11-inch round. Brush pastry overhang with some egg mixture and cover filling with pastry round.. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of fork to seal. Brush top and edges with remaining egg mixture. With sharp knife, make 8 evenly spaced 1-inch-long vents in top crust. Freeze pie 20 minutes.
  3. Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble around the edges and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to room temperature so juices have time to thicken, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

One comment

  1. […] for up to 2 days or frozen for up to a month (for a double-quantity version, see the entry for sweet-cherry pie). Once the shell is made and baked, the rest of the recipe is a snap! Caramelizing onions can be […]

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