Of all the fruit pies, sour cherry is my absolute favorite. I love it so much (and I don't even like pie that much) that one year I bought a sour cherry pie for my birthday cake. It was perfect. So I was looking forward to Rose's version when I saw it in the Baking Bible.
At first I was disappointed the pie was scheduled for now, when pie cherries are just tiny little buds on the trees. They don't come into season in Oregon until July, and like the marionberry and the chester blackberry, sour cherries elicit much excitement at the farmer's markets when they arrive. I wanted to be one of those excited fruit enthusiasts, eagerly getting to the market as soon as it opens to get my hands on a bunch of freshly picked cherries from Hood River.
I can still do that, of course, but now that I've realised I can make a damn fine sour cherry pie using frozen cherries, and not having to pit a single cherry, I will save my early morning farmer's market line ups for the marionberry. And Hood strawberries.
This crust for this pie is Rose's cream cheese pie crust, which keeps the crust tender and flaky (along with all the butter). We were making a lattice top. which I have never done before, and can report that it looks much harder than it is. In fact, it looks very appealing. I mentioned to Mark that (in The Pie and Pastry Bible) Rose even talks of making a tight lattice crust to cover the entire top of a pie (instead of using a top crust like in an apple pie) and Mark's eyes got a little big as he dreamed of all the crust.
Pie crust and I don't really see eye to eye, as it requires much more patience then I have. When the dough gets sticky as I roll it out, I'm supposed to stick it back in the fridge for 30 min to cool down and keep the butter in pieces. Usually however I say "screw it" and keep rolling, making the butter melt and turning the crust into sadness. This is what happened with the Black and Blueberry Pie. I simply lost patience.
This crust turned out better! I did try to take shortcuts but the dough wasn't having any of it. I tried rolling out the bottom crust right away, but when I was turning it over it tore into two. So I business letter folded the two pieces together and stuck in the fridge to cool. Then I rolled out the other half of the dough and mistakenly cut out a 10 inch circle instead of a 12 inch circle. So I business letter folded those pieces together and stuck that half in the fridge to cool. Eventually I rolled out a proper bottom crust and everything was okay.
Sugar and cornstarch are mixed into the defrosted pie cherries with their juices, then cooked until the cornstarch activates and the juices thicken. Pretty easy peasy.
Then the top crust gets rolled out to an oval and 14 strips should be cut to make the lattice. I couldn't get 14 strips, only 12. I must have measured the oval wrong or something but I wasn't too bothered. 12 strips is pretty good, too.
When I poured my filling into my pie plate, there was about 1 inch of room left between the top of the pie plate and the filling. "Not enough cherries," I declared and opened a can of sour cherries and packed in as many as I could (about 2/3 can). This may account for the juicy spillover as the pie baked, but I'm not too worried. I just wanted plenty of cherries.
I pulled the pie out of the oven at 11pm so Mark and I eagerly looked forward to a breakfast of sour cherry pie.
Good pie. The almond extract didn't come through, but my extract might be old. I prefer a vanilla note to my sour cherry pie instead. And maybe a little bourbon or rum would do nicely. But really I'm not complaining. This is a great pie, just sweet enough but still nice and tart. And fairly easy, once you get over the whole pie crust thing. Definitely goes on the make-again list.