Black Bottom Cherry "Sunflower" Pie

July  2, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Makes one 9-inch pie
Author Notes

I’m a big flower lover, but sunflowers are my very favorite, bar none. Maybe it’s their bright, sunny color, maybe it’s because I’m from Kansas – the sunflower state. This pie is sunny, too – full of juicy cherries and a surprising, rich ganache base. It’s great with or without the floral effect (you can bake it as a regular double crust pie, no problem)! —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds (681 g) cherries, pitted
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup (149 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (38 g) cornstarch
  • pinch cinnamon
  • small splash vanilla extract
  • 2x your favorite single crust pie dough (my favorite recipe is here:
  • 1 cup (113 g) chopped dark chocolate (I used 60%)
  • 1/3 cup (76 g) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (39 g) chocolate chips
  • egg wash, as needed for finishing
  1. In a medium pot, toss the cherries, lemon juice, and half of the sugar to combine. Stir over medium heat until the berries begin to soften and release their juices slightly, 3-5 minutes.
  2. In small bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and cornstarch to combine. Add this mixture to the cherries and mix well to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and continue to cook until the mixture thickens 4-5 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out half of the dough into a circle ¼ inch thick. To transfer the dough to the pie pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, starting at the far edge of the round. With the pie pan in front of you, start at the edge closest to you and gently unfurl the dough into the pan. Press gently to make sure the crust settles all the way to the bottom, but be careful not to poke any holes in the dough. Trim away the excess dough, leaving a ½ inch overhang all around. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Tuck the excess dough under at the edges, pressing lightly to help “seal” the dough to the outer rim of the pie pan. Return the dough to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes or to the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Crimp the edges of the piecrust as desired (I used a fork to keep it flat for the eventual flower petal placement).
  5. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Cut a square of parchment slightly larger than the pie pan. Place the parchment over the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust on the stone or bottom rack just until the edges barely begin to turn golden, 15-20 minutes.
  6. Remove the parchment and weights and return the pan to the oven for another 2-4 minutes, just until slightly more golden around the edges and the base looks dry. Let cool completely.
  7. Place the chopped dark chocolate in a medium, heat-safe bowl. Heat the cream in a small pot until it comes to a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit undisturbed for 20-30 seconds, then stir until smooth. Spread the ganache into a thin, even layer in the base of the pie crust.
  8. Pour the cooled cherry filling into the pie crust and spread into an even layer. Roll out the remaining half of the pie dough to about ¼ inch thick. Use a paring knife to freehand, or petal/leaf cookie cutter to cut out about 18 large petals and 15 small petals from the dough.
  9. Arrange the large petals around the outside of the pie, overlapping each piece slightly. Arrange the small petals in a smaller circle inside the first – overlapping the large petals, but leaving a small open space in the center of the pie. Fill the open space with chocolate chips.
  10. Egg wash the pie crust petals and transfer the pie to a baking sheet. Bake until the surface pie begins to turn golden brown and the juices begin to bubble, 30-35 minutes. If needed, cover areas that brown quicker with foil and/or reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cindy Foreman
    Cindy Foreman
  • Smaug
  • Erin Jeanne McDowell
    Erin Jeanne McDowell
  • Beth Theobald
    Beth Theobald
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

8 Reviews

sika6061 November 25, 2022
Made this for Thanksgiving and it was amazeballs. I had bought some frozen sour cherries over the summer, so I used 1 1/2 pounds of that to make the pie. I had to make my own template for the flower petals, which was fun. The only thing I would change in the future is to increase the amount of cherries if I use the same pie plate, and I would cut down the amount of corn starch. When I cooked it, it thickened immediately, so I must have less juice than the original recipe with the type of cherries I used. However, the end result was beautiful and delicious. Everyone was impressed and loved it. I used Erin's All Buttah Pie Dough recipe, and it flaked up beautifully. Finally, to answer @Steph, I added the vanilla and cinnamon to the cherries, and it tasted great. Highly recommend!
Cindy F. July 7, 2018
Tart or sweet cherries? I have a tart cherry tree because I can't find them in the stores. But I've also noticed the recipes are going more towards using sweet cherries.
Smaug July 7, 2018
They are indeed, and it's probably just a matter of availability; it's unquestionable that tart cherries produce superior pies, jams, etc. You are very fortunate (or smart or both) to have a sour cherry tree; not only do they supply you with this otherwise hard to find ingredient, they, unlike other cherries, don't require a second tree for pollination. Sour cherries are, by the way, said to have some nutritional advantages.
Steph June 7, 2018
Hi! This looks great. What happens w the vanilla and cinnamon? Thanks!
Smaug May 31, 2018
Do you really use the dough 1/4" thick?
Erin J. June 1, 2018
I do! But if you like your crust a bit on the thinner side, everything else would still apply - just reduce par baking time by 3-4 minutes!
Smaug June 2, 2018
Interesting- I don't believe I've ever run across a crust that thick; do you do that with all your pies, or is it something special to this one? Should be sturdy enough, anyway. Last time I made a cherry pie I had it on a baking sheet and dropped it taking it out; somehow it managed to jump out of the pie pan and land (sort of a sliding motion, actually)- intact on the open oven door. Couldn't do it again in a million years.
Beth T. July 29, 2018
That’s a fun trick! The pie gods were smiling in your direction!!

I can’t find sour cherries in North Carolina so I get the Morello jarred ones from Trader Joe’s and drain them really well. Not fresh, but sure better than a bing cherry pie (or, god forbid, that canned stuff).