Author Notes: My father claims that he first fell in love with my mother during cherry season. He was 10 years old and loved nothing more than climbing trees...and the fact that he could fill his belly with ripe cherries while nestled in the branches added to the fun. But lurking beneath the tree, wracked with the spasms from whooping cough (it was 1942), was this little girl from the village. Seeing the tears of pain stream down her face, he took pity on her, filled his shirttails with cherries, and offered them to her.
The rest, as they say, is history. —Windischgirl
cups all purpose flour
cup whole wheat flour
pound cool butter (1 stick)
egg yolks (reserve the whites)
cup sour cream
Sour Cherry filling
pound pitted sour or Morello cherries (this will be about 2-2 1/2 lbs fresh cherries). Canned cherries in water or juice will be fine; please don't use cherry pie filling as it is too thick.
tablespoons reserved liquid if using canned cherries; otherwise use sour cherry juice, water, or white wine
tablespoons all purpose flour
cup granulated sugar, or to taste
zest of half a lemon, perhaps a few drops of lemon juice
plain dry bread crumbs or ground nuts (almonds are nice)
reserved egg white, lightly beaten (from the crust recipe. Freeze that other egg white for when you make meringues)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until there are chunks the size of dried beans. Stir in the egg yolks and sour cream until a dough starts to form, then knead the mixture together for about a minute. Be patient: it may seem dry at first. If the dough seems especially crumbly, sprinkle in a tablespoon of water. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic (or place in a resealable plastic bag) and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Grease and flour an 8x12x2 inch pan; set aside. Work on the filling while your dough is chilling (oof).
- Remove the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to a 15x12 inch rectangle. From the long side, fold the dough into thirds, like a letter (you'll have a long strip); then fold the long strip into thirds to form a neat bundle. Lightly dust your work surface with flour as needed throughout this process.
- Turn the bundle 90 degrees and roll out again. Repeat the folding process.
- Turn, roll, and fold one more time. Cut the dough into two pieces, approximately 2/3 and 1/3. Set the smaller piece aside in the fridge.
- On the lightly floured work surface, roll the larger piece of dough into a 12x16 rectangle and ease into the prepared pan. Make sure the dough extends up the sides of the pan...a little overlap is a good thing. Set aside; you can stash it in the fridge if need be.
- Take the smaller piece of dough out of the fridge and roll out to the same thickness as the base crust. With a sharp knife or a pizza wheel (or a decorative pastry wheel if you have it), cut the dough into long strips about 1/2 inch wide. If you're in a pinch, you can simply roll the dough out large enough to be a top crust and skip the lattice part.
Sour Cherry filling
- Place the cherries in a saucepan large enough to hold them. If using canned cherries, drain them, reserving the liquid (the unused liquid makes a refreshing drink when mixed with some sparkling water). In a small measuring cup, whisk together the cherry liquid and the flour until smooth. Add that mixture, the sugar, and the lemon zest to the cherries and heat over medium until the mixture begins to simmer. Cook until the juices thicken. If the mixture seems to need a bit of brightening, add a few drops of lemon juice.
- Once the filling has thickened, remove from the heat and let cool completely; you can make the filling ahead of time and just refrigerate it until needed.
- Putting it all together: Preheat the oven to 375F. Take your base crust and sprinkle it with a layer of bread crumbs or ground almonds. Pour in the cherry filling. Sprinkle with another layer of crumbs or ground nuts.
- Arrange the pastry strips over the top of the pie to make a lattice; feel free to patch the strips together, using the egg white as glue. If you have reserved strips, arrange them around the perimeter of the crust to make a nice finished edge. In a pinch, you can simply top the pie with the uncut crust and tuck the edges in to neaten in. In this case, pierce the top with a fork in several places.
- Brush the crust with the reserved egg white. Bake for about 45 minutes; it'll be done when the crust is shiny brown and the filling is bubbling. If the crust is browning too quickly, tent with foil. Let cool to room temperature and enjoy.
- Notes: this pie can be assembled ahead and frozen, unbaked. When ready to bake, place in the oven unthawed and add 10-15 min to the baking time. Additionally, this pie can be filled with apples (Almas Pite). Use about 5 large tart baking apples, shredded into a colander and allowed to drain (toss with a few teaspoons of lemon juice to prevent browning). Squeeze out the excess liquid, add 1/2 c sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and the lemon zest. No need to cook this filling as the apples have a great deal of pectin. I would use ground walnuts for the crumb/nut component.