We’re back with the latest recipe from the Pies and Tarts chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person—the Sour Cherry Pie, our 33rd bake from the book and one that will always hold a special place in our hearts.
The Reunion Bake: A Double Take
This week was a special one folks—we are coming to you live from the SAME kitchen! (Our Mom and Dad’s kitchen to be exact…).
With some of the restrictions being lifted in Ontario and thanks to being double vaccinated (#shotgirlsummer), Lauren was able to come to North Bay for a long-anticipated family visit, which meant that sisters&saffitz could be in the same place for the first time ever! We both smiled from ear-to-ear when we put on our matching aprons and were able to cook in the same place, rather than just text each other constantly throughout the bake. It reminded us that the part of baking that is truly special is being able to experience it with others (cue the sappy music).
And what better way to celebrate a reunion than with a cherry pie? We both were excited about this bake: one, because we’d be able to do it together, but also because neither one of us had done a lattice crust before and we were keen to try.
Unfortunately, sour cherries were very elusive in North Bay and we weren’t able to find any, but we did manage to find some absolutely beautiful, fresh local cherries and decided to splurge and use those instead. And when we say splurge, we really went for it folks. No shame.
We made the pie doughs together the day before. The recipe calls for making a double recipe of the Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough, but indicates doing the almond flour variation. This variation simply involves substituting a small amount of all-purpose flour for almond flour. Lauren forgot to substitute when doing one batch of the pie dough, so we instead had one regular pie dough and one beautifully speckled dough made with almond flour. We decided that doing one of each would be cool both in terms of design but also for helping to balance out the almond flavour.
We also pitted the cherries the day before (shout out to Julia for the commitment to this task—there are still remnants of red juice left on her hands) and froze them as Claire recommends in the recipe. Freezing the cherries helps the pie dough to stay cold while assembling.
The next day, Julia came back to Mom and Dad’s, and we rolled out our pie doughs. We used the regular recipe for the base and cut the almond flour one into 1-inch strips to be used for the lattice crust. Both of us have become so accustomed to working through the recipes solo that we couldn’t believe how much easier and more efficient it was to tag-team on this one; while one tackled rolling out dough, the other would prep the filling. While one assembled the lattice, the other walked her through by reading the instructions from the book and providing visual cues. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: baking buddies—we can’t recommend them enough.
Once the doughs were prepped, the actual assembly of this pie was super simple. The frozen cherries were tossed with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, and almond extract. Since we weren’t able to track down sour cherries, we cut down on the sugar slightly. The base dough is rolled out into a circle shape and laid into the pie plate; the filling is scooped in and pressed down firmly to eliminate as much air as possible; and then the strips of top-layer dough are assembled into a woven lattice pattern over the top.
This was the first lattice for both of us and it was actually really fun to put together; as usual, Claire’s visuals in the book were so easy to follow and made what could seem like a trickier process totally doable and straightforward. Once some of the excess dough is trimmed off, the sides are pulled up and pinched together, the edges are crimped, and the whole pie is brushed with egg wash and topped with demerara sugar. Claire said to be generous, and Julia absolutely took this instruction and ran with it!
The pie had to bake at 425 for about 20 minutes to get everything nice and crisped up, and then for another hour and a half or so at 350. We think our parents’ oven probably runs on the hotter side, because the outside edges started to brown up really quickly; we took the pie out after about 40 minutes and covered the edge with some tinfoil to prevent browning.
We tried to look for Claire’s visual cue of looking for bubbling at the center before taking it out, and let the pie sit at room temperature for a few hours as recommended.
Later that night, we cut into the pie to share with our parents and Lauren’s boyfriend. As Lauren sliced into it, the filling started to run out quite a bit so we think our impatience (and by “our” we mean mostly Julia’s in this case…) got the best of us with this one. We probably should have kept the pie in the oven a little bit longer, even though we were concerned about over-baking our crust, and the pie probably would have benefitted from another hour or so resting at room temperature.
Despite the filling not being quite as set as we could have liked, everyone was so happy with how this pie tasted! The crust was so incredibly flaky—maybe our best results so far with this recipe—and even the bottom stayed so firm and crispy.
The flavour of the filling was also amazing; it would have been great to get the tartness from the sour cherries, and this definitely ran a touch sweet, but the big, fresh cherries made for an incredible filling and there was just the right amount of almond which added that something special.
Most of all, the experience of being together again after so many months, getting to tackle a recipe together as a team, and sharing it with some of our family made this one of our favourite bakes to date. This pie is a 10/10 for process and a 4-star bake from both of us!
Next week, we’ll be back to our trademark side-by-side comparisons as we take on the Quince and Almond Tart!