It goes without saying that this is a sour cherry pie, because there’s no other kind of cherry pie. Not in the J. Pastry universe. Sour cherries, being more acidic, are much more interesting from a flavor standpoint. They also have thinner skins and more tender flesh, which means they bake down more readily. The result is a pie of a complexity and texture that sweet cherries can simply never deliver. Enough said.
So where were we? Right, pie. Every great pie starts with a home-made crust, and no they’re not hard to make. Roll yours in the same way I did here for peach pie. While the crust is resting, make your filling. Begin by assembling your ingredients. You’ll need a quart or more of sour cherries.
Those things need to be pitted, and for that job I like these little plastic doodads. The advantage to this style is that the little plastic shied comes down over the cherry as you pit it, so the juice doesn’t splatter out and stain your clothes. Also the happy face is an appealing touch. It’s the same look I get on my face when the new King Arthur catalog arrives in the mail.
Pro tip: For those who can manage to score sour cherries more than once a year, read Linda recommends the Prepworks pitter. It doesn’t have a smiley face, but then you can’t have everything.
Depending on the type and age of the cherries, a fair amount of juice will leak out. Keep an eye on that. You’ll only want 1//4 cup or so for the filling, so just before setting down to work, drain it off. If you have 1/4 cup or less you’re good to go. More than that and you’ll want to either pour some off or gently boil it down to the right amount.
Combine your sugar, salt, and a cornstarch (or tapioca) in a medium bowl, and whisk it together.
Add the lemon juice…
…and the almond extract…
…and te cherry juice (or cherry juice reduction)…
…and lastly stir in the sugar mixture.
Pour the whole mess into your pie shell and cut your vents.
At that point let the pie rest for half an hour to prevent shrinkage of the crust edges. Don’t worry, your runny filling won’t soak in, even though this is an unbaked crust. If you like you can paint on some egg wash for a little extra color (just don’t glue your vent holes shut).
After resting, apply your pie shield to prevent the crust from over-browning. Bake 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, then 20-30 minutes at 350. When you see filling bubbling up through the steam vents, it’s done. Allow the finished pie to cool completely, 6-8 hours, or better still overnight, so the filling gels completely. If you jiggle the pie and see liquid sloshing in the steam vents, you know you’re not there yet. But trust me, in this instance patience pays. See?