Sour Cherry Crumb Pie to Welcome the New Year

January 1, 2011

Every summer, in sour cherry season, I fill the freezer with as many sour cherries as I have the patience to pit.  I try to make them last through the fall, leaving just enough to make one final sour cherry pie for the first day of the next year. It's a little reminder that summer really will return.

Sometimes I make a crostata.  Sometimes I make a tart.  Yesterday, for some reason, I thought I'd like to start the year with a sour cherry crumb pie. This morning, eating the first piece, the most intense flavor memory came floating back. I was 8 years old, eating dinner with my parents at The Cookery on the corner of University Place and 8th Street, spooning up their sweet, slightly salty cherry crumb tart. The Cookery was owned by my friend Bertha's uncle, who sometimes let us waitress there – just for fun – when we were in junior high. I thought it was enormous fun, and looking back, I realize that was my very first restaurant job. One bite brought it all back: a very fine way to welcome 2011.

Sour Cherry Crumb Pie

I hate blind-baking pie crusts, but in this case it’s worth it; you don’t want to waste your precious sour cherries on a sad, soggy bottom. So make a pie crust and blind bake it. While the crust cools, make the cherry filling by melting about 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet and adding 4 to 5 cups of frozen cherries (along with their liquid), and 2/3 cups of sugar.  This will thaw with remarkable speed, and as soon as it does, add a squirt of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and stir in a paste made of 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cold water.  Bring to a boil, stirring gently.  In about 2 minutes, when the filling becomes clear and thick, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Pour the cherries into the pie shell.

Make a crumble by melting a stick of butter and stirring in ¾ cups of sugar,  ¾ cups of flour and a pinch of salt.  Strew across the cherries and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden.

It would be wise to bake the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet; sour cherries have a tendency to bubble over the crust, and cleaning the sticky liquid off the bottom of the oven is no way to greet the new year.

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6 Comments

  • Regine Ibold says:

    Since you mention cherries and their liquid….if I make this with frozen sour cherries from the supermarket should I add some extra sour cherry juice? There is a Greek brand sold in a carton that’s quite good.

  • Every summer I can quarts of sour cherry pie filling. Summer in a jar. After reading this post, I had a pie in the oven in no time. Thank you for the nudge.

  • Lgemino says:

    This post makes me sad I don’t have sour cherries in my cupboard. Very very sad.

  • Platino909 says:

    I loved it! I can still taste it… so, so, so very delicious. Merci! Sabine

  • When I was little, we had wild sour cherry trees not far from the house and I basically lived in them. Once I’d eaten all the cherries that I could, I’d pile the rest into my eternally stained dress and drag the lot home. I always got into trouble for staining yet another outfit, but there were always cherry dumplings and kompot the next day. It took me a long time to find a farm here in IL that has the kind of cherries I remembered, but now I make the 2 hour drive every summer and don’t leave until I’m sunburned and can’t lift any more bags. On the way out I grab an apple cider slushie and spend the 2 hour drive back home scheming. I have just enough left in the freezer now to make this pie and start planning for June.

  • I made this pie, fell in love with it, and wrote about it. http://bit.ly/htLll3 Thank you!!!

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