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Sour Cherry Pie with Almond, Vanilla Bean, & Cloves

June 21, 2014

Cherry pie with almond, vanilla, & cloves

Sour cherries

Cherry pie filling

Cherry pie with almond, vanilla, & cloves

I had planned to make a coconut cream pie for my mom this weekend.  Unfortunately, she ended up getting stuck with jury duty and had to cancel her trip up here.  I love coconut cream pie (or Hawaiian Tropics pie, as a friend from college used to call it whenever it appeared on the dessert table in the school cafeteria), but I was secretly looking forward to taking a week off.  In fact, I ended up spending most of the prime pie-making hours yesterday in a downtown bar, day-drinking and getting my heart broken by the Azzurri.

Then this morning, I woke up early and went to the farmer’s market to buy some green tomatoes.  I got the tomatoes straight away, but decided to walk around to see if anybody had squash blossoms.  I never found any, but I did find a couple different vendors selling sour cherries, and I really couldn’t pass them up.  Sour cherries!  In Kansas!  For me, it would’ve been like seeing a polar bear walking down Mass Street.  Anyway, I bought 3 pounds, stopped by the hardware store for a cherry pitter, and came home to find a recipe.

But the internet really let me down today.  I couldn’t seem to find a simple, double-crust sour cherry pie recipe that had the flavors I wanted.  So I improvised!  I started with my favorite crust and common quantities for sugar and cornstarch, added the spices I was craving, and applied the methods used in the triple berry pie recipe from A Year of Pies.


Sour Cherry Pie with Almond, Vanilla Bean, & Cloves

makes a 9-inch pie

  • double-crust pie dough (My favorite recipe is here and includes a step-by-step photo tutorial; for a double-crust pie, you’ll need to double this recipe.)
  • 3 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted (Discard any cherries that are bruised or damaged.)
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch (This pie has a very loose set.  Increase to 1/4 cup for a firmer pie.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (Alternatively, use the seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod.)
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a splash of milk
  • 1-2 Tbsp turbinado or demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the middle position.

Roll out half of your pie dough into a 14-inch circle (keep the other half in the refrigerator).  Fit into a greased 9-inch pie pan set on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet — I use a glass pie pan, but ceramic or metal would be fine too, although baking times may vary (especially for the metal pan).  Trim crust overhang to 1″, then transfer pie pan to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the filling.  Take the other half of your pie dough out of the refrigerator now, so it will be pliable enough to roll.

In a large bowl, combine cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, vanilla bean paste or seeds, almond extract, cloves, and salt.  Cover bowl with a lid or tea towel and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.  (Once again, this pie had a very loose set.  If you’re not into that, roll out your top crust before stirring together the pie filling, and skip this maceration step.)  Now is a good time to take the pie plate out of the fridge, so the edges of your bottom crust will soften up a little, making it easier to crimp.

While the cherries are macerating, roll out the other half of your pie dough into a 14-inch circle.  (If you’re going to cut shapes in the top crust of your pie, I prefer to do it at this stage, before transferring the dough to the pie…it makes transferring the crust to the pie a little trickier, but my crust always tends to tear if I try to do the cutouts after the crust is on the pie.)  Pour filling and all accumulated juices into the bottom crust, then transfer the top crust to the pie (I do this by folding my crust in half twice, placing it on top of the pie, and then unfolding it — it’s much easier to match the center of your crust to the center of your pie, and you’re less likely to stretch your cutouts out of shape).  If you haven’t already done so, cut out shapes on the top of your pie, or make 5 to 6 slits radiating from the center.  Trim top crust overhang to 1″, fold top and bottom crust edges under and crimp or pinch together.

Whisk together the egg yolk and a splash of milk.  Brush egg wash over the top crust of your pie, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 375°F and set timer for 10 minutes.  When timer goes off, rotate baking sheet so that the pie will bake evenly.  Fifteen minutes later, place a pie shield or aluminum foil ring over the crust edge, so it won’t burn.  Continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling (total baking time will be 45-50 minutes).  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack, 4-6 hours minimum.  (Fair warning: this pie is JUICY!  It’s not super easy to slice/serve.  Just have a spoon handy to drizzle all that oozy goodness back over the slices.  Ooh, or ice cream.)


P.S.  I have another little treat for anybody out there who enjoys designing cross-stitch patterns: a 110 x 140-square blank grid for sketching, available as a free PDF download on the side-bar of my blog!  My husband cooked this up for me last night, because I’m working on designing a sampler for 28-count linen, and I thought there might be others out there who could use it too.  The grid is much smaller than standard graph paper, so you can get a better idea of the scale of your designs (plus it all fits on one page, which is always nice & handy).  If anybody is interested in other sizes/dimensions, let me know — if there’s sufficient interest in other sizes, we’ll make those available for download too!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2014 5:36 pm

    That sounds wonderful! I love cherries and all the flavors you used. I’ve been wanting to make a pie from scratch and this one may be it. I bought little cut out thingies to make pie years (like 8) ago and never used them. The hearts you did are so sweet. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to. Thank you for the download. I am also looking forward to seeing your sampler.

    • whitney marie permalink*
      June 21, 2014 5:55 pm

      Thank you!!! This pie doesn’t slice well at all (I wanted to include a picture after I cut it, but it really puddled a LOT). I think filling & baking the pie pretty much as soon as you mix that filling together might fix that problem, but I’m not sure. Not only was this the first cherry pie I’ve ever made, it’s the first one I’ve ever eaten! (Well, I’ve had cherry pie, but like the grocery store kind that’s made from canned pie filling.) So I’m not really sure what the tricks are for getting it to set up 🙂 That being said, I personally prefer a loosey-goosey pie to one that’s too gelled. It just tastes fresher to me. The flavorings here are very subtle, so if you’re wanting a big hit of any or all of them, I would double the quantities. The hearts were inspired by my mom, who likes to do them on blueberry pie (although she’s much better at centering them on the pie!).

      My sampler is still very much in the sketching stage, but I’ve got the linen now, so I’m hoping to start stitching in the next week or so. It’s kind of summer-themed, so I don’t want to wait too long to get it out there in the world!

  2. June 21, 2014 6:16 pm

    How long did you wait to cut into it? The blueberry pie I made last weekend said to let it sit for 6 hours. I didn’t read that until the morning so I was only able to wait for three and it was a mess. I didn’t mind except when serving guests I always feel a little apologetic because my dessert didn’t come out perfect. Hopefully, if I get over my current cold, I’ll go strawberry picking next week and make a strawberry pie.

    • whitney marie permalink*
      June 21, 2014 6:26 pm

      I waited a little more than 4 hours, but I think 6 would’ve been better. Strawberry pie sounds lovely! I’ve always wanted to go strawberry picking. I hope you’ll post about it!

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