Hard to believe, but I bought my first sour cherries ever from the farmer’s market last week. There are two main reasons I haven’t bought them before. First, their season is very short so the chances of finding them are slim. And second, they are very fragile and do not keep for more than a few days so you need to have time to use them if you don’t want to waste your money (and they can be expensive). I bought these cherries without any clear plan on what to make, but decided on a pie when I got home. I soon realized I didn’t have nearly enough for a full size pie, so I made a few mini-pies in a couple of individual tart pans. The sour cherries had a wonderful flavor (they are the traditional pie-making cherry after all, but most recipes usually use canned cherries) and I don’t think I’ll be so hesitant to buy them again.
A note on making individual pies: Roll the pie dough as thin as you can or else the filling to crust ratio will be off and it would be too much like eating the crust by itself. To roll the dough extra-thin, make sure it is cold and try rolling it between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin.
As for the kids, Mia found a way to eat all the cherries first so there was a hollowed out pie shell before eating most of the crust. And maybe Claudine didn’t like the cherries as much as everyone else because everything else was gone from the plate except for the cherries, which looked like all the juice had been sucked out of them.
Fresh Sour Cherry Pie (makes 4 individual 4-inch pies)
2-2/3 cups flour
14 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the crust, mix the butter into the flour and salt with your fingers until mostly incorporated. (You can use a food processor for this step if you like.) Mix in enough cold water to make a dough. Roll the dough as thin as you can (see note above), cut into 8 circles about 2 inches larger than your small tart pans. If you need more dough you can just re-roll some of the scrap pieces. Chill the dough until ready to use.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Toss the pitted cherries with the sugar and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve the juice. Put the juice in a small saucepan along with the cornstarch and bring to a boil. When it has thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in the reserved cherries.
To assemble the mini-pies, press one circle of dough into a 4-inch tart pan. Fill almost to the top with some pie filling. Place another circle of dough on the top, pinching at the edges so it is completely sealed. Trim any excess dough and crimp decoratively as desired. Cut a short slit in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. Repeat with the remaining pies, then bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is cooked on the bottom and the filling begins to bubble out of the top. Allow to cool slightly before eating.