The only part of my wedding I ever planned beforehand was the dessert. When we got engaged last year I didn’t have a lot of ideas of what the wedding would be like. I didn’t have dreams of what it would look like or what I would wear. The only thing I knew I wanted was to make my own wedding cake. And pie, since that’s my obvious preference when it comes to baked desserts. The first thing on my wedding to do list then, was figuring out how to make it happen.
Look, I’m not totally crazy. I didn’t want to bake my own stacked and tiered wedding cake with sweet decorations and little details piped in with frosting. I didn’t want to deal with full size pies and lattice crusts that refuse to play nicely in the summer. I wanted to make rustic individual cakes and pies, the kind baked in little jars so that they don’t have to be shared. That way I could have pie and Jeffrey could have cake and it could be a compromise of sorts. The best kind of compromise where everyone gets what they want and no one actually has to give in. And since I am Team Pie in this relationship that meant I got to choose the pie flavor. Tart cherry pie, arguably the best pie flavor for early summer.
But as with most aspects of wedding planning, just saying that I wanted tart cherry pie did not make it happen. Wishing for a perfect recipe and easy access to ingredients does not make it so; I had to work for it. To start with, tart cherries have an incredibly short season and they don’t even grow around Boston where the wedding was planned. I toyed with the idea of sweet cherry pie but dropped it after just one test pie – it was good but not good enough. I spent a few crazy weeks and months sourcing sour cherries (found the perfect ones at Trader Joe’s), testing out recipes, and perfecting the one I hacked together. There’s been a lot of pie around here over the past six months and it’s been glorious. This one in particular is glorious. I can’t wait to have one more at the wedding. And maybe a second one the day after.
- 1 recipe flaky pie crust
- 1 12-oz jar tart cherries in juice or light syrup, liquid reserved
- 1 ½ tbs cornstarch
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- PREPARE the pie crust and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or up to a few days. When it's rested and chilled, roll half of it out to line the bottom of the pie pan or the jars. Save the other half to use later If using jars I found it easiest to cut out a piece for the bottom of the jar and cut a long wide strip to use for the sides and then pinch the two pieces together at the seam. Once the pie pan(s) is (are) lined with dough, put them back in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
- DRAIN the juice from the cherries and combine 1 ½ tbs juice with cornstarch and set aside.
- COMBINE ¾ cup juice, dried cherries, and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add cornstarch mixture and boil for another few minutes until thick and glossy. Turn off heat, add salt and vanilla, and let it cool to room temperature.
- PREHEAT the oven to 300F. Roll out the remainining pie dough and either cut it into shapes (I used hearts) to cover the top, make a lattice, or just roll out a full piece of dough to lay on top.
- SPOON the filling into the chilled pie shell(s) and then cover with the top crust. If using a full piece of dough be sure to cut some slits in the top for steam to escape.
- BAKE for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing. The pie is good fresh and can also be refrigerated and served cold, room temperature, or hot for about four days.