Sour Cherry Rustic Pies

Never promise to make pie and fail to deliver on that promise.
— Kate Lebo

Everyone has a favorite pie. 

 Mine just happens to be cherry. 

Specifically sour cherry.

I don’t mind other cherry pies made with bing or rainier but the flavor most are going for is that sweet and tang that one only gets with sour cherries.  I didn’t know they were hard to find, cost a lot or even that they come to our Seattle Farmer’s Market for about two weeks and then boom they are gone like a flash of a gas stove lighting and disappearing.  Summer time is the peak and well National Cherry Pie day is not in the summer so freezing fresh sour cherries was the way to go.  Four pounds seemed like a lot until I baked them.

I need more.  And I have to wait.

I am like the kid in a candy shop watching them make taffy at the start of the day and hoping I get some before it is gone.  The one in the family who is hoping to get to lick the beater when the cookies are mixed.


That’s what it’s like waiting for not only cherries, but our Seattle summers.  The warmth comes, the rain fades and the trees stay green.  I will take any cherries in cherry season but alas those sour cherries must never be passed by. If you do well I would say you don’t know what you are missing, but then again you are missing them aren’t you?

Simple crusts are best I think to bring out that cherry zing and I swear you can even eat these for breakfast.  Fruit and flour it is basically bread and jam. 

 Wink, wink.

Maybe don’t tell your mom I said so though.

I first ate a delicious sour cherry pie at a place here in Seattle called à la Mode Pies.  I loved it and couldn’t understand why the one in the little foil pie plate and covered with plastic sitting on the shelf for a week from the local grocery store around the corner just wasn’t the same.  Was it because it was fresher?  The cherries were not mixed with sticky tacky tasting cherry glue?  Was it because at à la Mode the crust was flaky and melted in your mouth leaving a taste of fat blended with sugar and tart from the sour cherries?  

All of the above.  However I can’t eat a lard filled crust in the morning and not feel just a twinge of guilt so I came up with a better version using the food and wine flaky crust that uses butter and a little sour cream and if your feeling the guilt no worries each small pie barely has much fat.  After allit is split six ways.  You get maybe a tablespoon total, less than the muffin you ate yesterday and basically what you probably slather on your bread in the morning.  

Don’t lie you know you do.

I do…after all the bread is a chunk.

Pie Crust before it has been rolled out

Now that I have officially brought you over to the world of cherry pies it is time to make some yourself.  The best news is no matter how bad you are with crust you can’t mess these up because they are “rustic pies.”  Tell your guests: “Yes of course they are meant to be oozing cherry and have a slight finger smash all over, their Rustic.”  Or if you are making them for friends to give away just wrap the box with burlap and tie with a checkered ribbon they will think you were going for the“country picnic” look.  

Whatever you do with them don’t forget to save one for yourself for breakfast. 

 You will be glad you did. I was. Enjoy.  


Makes approx. 6 rustic pies or 1 large pie


  • 155 grams All Purpose Flour 
  • 4 grams sugar
  • 2 grams kosher salt
  • 2 grams baking powder
  • 63 grams cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 53 grams sour cream
  • 3 tbsp crushed almond slivers
  • 3 tbsp panko bread crumbs


  • 680 grams or 1 1/2 pounds pitted sour cherries
  • 140 grams sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 Tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Disaronna (Italian Liqueur) 

Step 1

Make Crust as follows. In a food processor combine flour, sugar,baking powder and salt. Pulse until mixed. If you do not own a food processor you can  whisk these together.  Add butter pieces and sour cream and mix until resembles meal. In a chilled work bowl or on cold marble Gather the dough into a bowl.  If doing this by hand you will use your finger tips to first work in the butter then add the sour cream.  Separate the ball into 6 pieces approximately 45 grams each. Flatten and wrap in plastic wrap and leave in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. You can also make one large crust if not serving individually.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In large bowl add cherries, sugar, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice, Disaronna, and toss together.  Pour cherries and juice through a sieve and allow to drain into a bowl.  Keep juice! 

Step 3

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball until thin but not breaking.  It does not have to be a perfect circle.  

Step 4

Mix crushed almonds and panko and sprinkle evenly onto the dough. Arrange the cherries, no juice over the almond mixture.

Step 5

Fold the edges of the dough over the cherries. Be gentle. You can also moisten your fingers and gently press the creases together so that they hold their shape.  

Step 6

Bake the cherry pies in the oven for about 15 minutes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or silicone mat.  Turn and cook for another 15-20 minutes until edges are golden and cherries bubbly and juicy.  If not browning enough spray water with a bottle into the oven or prior to cooking egg wash the crusts with one egg lightly beaten.  If browning too quickly, lightly, cover the tart with foil.

Step 7

Extra step:

Using excess juice mix in 1/4 cup more sugar and pour into pan and whisk until slightly thickened like syrup.  

Serve with whip cream and cherry syrup for an unbelievable dessert. If not serving with the syrup do not strain the juices.


  • Fresh Sour cherries can be picked and frozen to use later in rustic pie or bought at the farmer's market if you have one nearby that sells them.  If not look for them frozen on-line or in grocery stores.  Canned cherries are not the same.
  • If allergic to nuts cut out the crushed almonds and panko and use flour and sugar instead.  Also substitute the Italian  almond liqueur  
  • Meyer lemons are more subtle in my taste but if not available use regular citrus lemon