Birthday Cherry Pie & Bourbon Ice Cream


My brother-in-law C. is a very good cook. And with my propensity for everything being a competition, I sometimes have to stop myself from wanting to outdo him when I cook. This isn’t Chopped. We can both be good. And we each have a different repertoire of dishes, thus a great opportunity to learn from one another, particularly in the area of baked goods. With his tripartite Swiss heritage, European influences are much stronger in his desserts – from French-influenced pastry (Tarte Tatin), German-influenced cookies such as Leckerli, and Swiss Vully Cakes. And through this I have learned what an incredible ingredient almond meal is and how easy it is to make a fruit tart.

This month’s cover of Bon Appetit magazine featured an irresistibly delicious-looking sour cherry pie, my reaction to which surprised me  because as my regular readers know, I’m not a pie fan. But what sold me was the almond meal in the crust. Almond meal + cherries sounded delicious. I had to make dessert for C’s birthday dinner, and since C loves almond meal in any baked good and fruit tarts, I decided to make the pie. Despite my best efforts, I could not locate sour cherries at the market, so I substituted ripe, slightly-tart, in-season Bings.

I’m still curious to try it with the sour cherries to see if there’s a significant difference, but with the Bings, it was fantastic.. The richness of the Bings was rounded with the spicy cinnamon (much like hot pepper in dark chocolate) and brightened with the surprisingly complementary lime juice, all three elements harmoniously enhancing the cherri-ness of the pie. And the almond meal crust was so far superior to any pie crust I”ve ever had.  But. It was very, very runny. Probably because the most important thing one needs to do with this pie, which I did not, is let it set up. For FOUR hours. Yes, once again, I didn’t read through the recipe far enough in advance. I KNOW better. Really, I do.

So, if you are going to make this, here are my tips so that you plan for sufficient prep time:

– The pie can be made a day in advance then re-warmed.

– If you can’t bake it a day ahead, you need to start prep approximately 10 hours before serving. (Seriously)

  • 1 hour for prepping fruit – 3lbs are a LOT of cherries to pit – and making dough
  • 2 hours for dough resting – during which you can spend 5 minutes mixing the filling because it needs to set too
  • 1 hour to roll out dough into circles (15 min) and let it re-chill (45 min)
  • 30 min to assemble pie – punching all of those little holes in the crust is tedious!
  • 1.5 hours to bake
  • 4 hours to rest

Now, as you will note, the actual work time within that 12 hours is 2 maximum if you are slow, maybe an hour if you are a more efficient pastry chef than me.

Advance prep requirements aside, this pie is so worth the planning and effort.



  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks


  • All-purpose flour for surface
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted, or 6 cups frozen sour cherries
  • 1 large egg
  • Demerara sugar or granulated sugar (for sprinkling)



Pulse almond flour, granulated sugar, salt, and 2½ cups all-purpose flour in a food processor.



Add butter.


Pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.


Whisk egg yolks and ¼ cup ice water in a small bowl and drizzle over flour mixture.


Pulse, drizzling in more ice water as needed, until dough just comes together (a few dry spots are okay).


Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.


Gently knead dough  until no dry spots remain, about 1 minute. Divide dough in half and pat each piece into a disk; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.



DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.


Preheat oven to 425°. Let dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12” round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.


Combine granulated sugar and lime zest in a large bowl, rubbing together with your fingertips to release oils in zest. Whisk in cornstarch and salt until there are no lumps in cornstarch.



Add cherries and toss to coat.


Carefully transfer 1 crust to a 9” pie dish. Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish.


Trim edges to even out crust if needed. Scrape in cherry filling. As you will see in the picture below, I didn’t trim before putting the cherries in, as I wanted to see how much more it slumped once the cherries went in. I was concerned that I would trim too much.


Using a ¾”-diameter pastry tip or cookie cutter, punch out holes in remaining crust, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of pie dish.


Place over filling. Fold edge of top crust underneath edge of bottom crust and press together to seal. Crimp as desired. (Alternatively, assemble pie, then cut X’s 
or slits into crust.) I saved the holes that I cut out and put them around the edge for decoration.


Brush crust with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Chill pie until crust is firm, 20–30 minutes.


Place pie on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake, tenting with foil if crust is browning too quickly, until juices are bubbling and crust is deep golden brown, 50–60 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 4 hours before slicing.


DO AHEAD: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

I served it with bourbon ice cream courtesy of this fantastic recipe from Brooklyn Supper. Of course I forgot to take a picture of the pie with the ice cream. But trust me. It was awesome!


Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Sour Cherry Pie




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