Door County Summer Cherry Pie

What's on your 'foodie bucket list?' On mine, I wanted to visit Wisconsin's Door County and get cherry wasted. That is, indulge in all things cherry! A few weekends ago, I did just that with The Baron and we had a wonderful time taking in the quaint towns along Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula. Probably the best souvenir I brought home was a ton of freshly picked sour cherries to play with. And with some of those cherries, I made this glorious Door County Summer Cherry Pie. Sour cherries are sweetened with sugar for the most luscious filling and baked into a rich, butter crust for the best taste of summer. A la mode, of course!...

I had know idea how much of a foodie area Door County was. While there, we had our fill of fried cheese curds, goat milk gelato, Swedish pancakes, wood fire oven pizzas, experience an old school Wisconsin supper club, hit up a few cherry markets and of course, go cherry picking!

We came home with roughly over 20 pounds of cherries and it didn't take me long to pit and pack them up to freeze. Now it's just a matter of what I do with these little jewels...

See that bottle? Here's a sneak peak. The bottle is a mixture of unpitted cherries, sugar and a whole bottle of white rum. You'll be seeing this again in a few months, just in time for the holidays...

And when I said I got cherry wasted, I really did. Maybe I got a bit carried away with all the cherry products I brought home. It was practically a taste of Door County: Island Orchard hard ciders (apple, apple cherry & cherry), cherry wine, cherry butter, cherry jam, cherry syrup, cherry pie filling, dried cherries, cherry bratwurst, mushroom & Swiss bratwurst, cheese curds, Corsica bread, 3.5lbs Nueske's smoked bacon, a cherry cookbook, and 20+lbs of tart Door County cherries...

So with some pitted cherries ready to go, I made a cherry pie filling, some pie dough and made some pie. I didn't bake it right away and instead, I wrapped the prepared pie in plastic wrap and with foil. This helped the pie crust firm up with the little bits of butter in the dough and helped keep the filling from getting too runny or loose. You will have a better result making this with sour cherries that need the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. Other eating cherries (like Bing or sweet cherries) don't do as well and I've found turn out mushy with a dark color. You'll notice my pie has a bright red color, which is all natural from the sour cherries. If you don't have fresh sour cherries, look for frozen or jarred ones (also known as Morello or Montmorency Cherries.) Do note - this pie is best made a couple days before you actually want to serve it. You'll need some time for it to freeze up (overnight is best)... and you'll need a day for the pie to rest after baking so that filling thickens up and cuts easier and cleaner. Besides, this is one dessert that is really better the next day anyway!

Door County Summer Cherry Pie
recipe adapted from Little French Bakery

Pie Dough (double crust):
Homemade All Butter Pie Dough or any store bought pie dough

4 cups pitted sour cherries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon heavy cream or half & half
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated or turbinado sugar for top crust

Prep a 9" pie pan by rolling the bottom pie crust onto the bottom of the pie pan. 

Combine the cherries, cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.

After the mixture has rested, with a slotted spoon, add the cherry mixture onto the bottom crust in the pie pan, leaving the juice in the bowl.

Once the cherry mixture is in the pie pan, spoon over about 3/4 of the juice over the cherries. Discard the remaining juice (using it all can make the crust too soggy).

Roll out the top crust and cut into strips. Lattice the strips over the cherries. (Alternately, you can place the whole top crust over the cherries instead of doing a lattice top. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust to form a seal and crimp as desired. Make a few slits on the top to allow a way for steam to escape while baking.) 

Trim the edges as needed - however I like to make a thick edge to help keep the filling in. Crimp edges as desired.

Brush the lattice and crust edges with heavy cream then sprinkle with remaining sugar. 

Carefully wrap pie in plastic wrap and then with foil. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight (preferred).

*The day before you're ready to serve the pie, bring pie to room temperature.*

Preheat oven for 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place pie on baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes; reduce temperature 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour or until the juices bubble up and the crust has browned lightly.

To prevent the edges from browning too much while the middle of the pie bakes, cover pie with a sheet of foil that has a center hole big enough to expose the middle of the pie. I found this to be much easier than trying to play with pieces of foil wrapped around the edges of the pie - which tend to fall off anyway. 

Remove pie from oven and allow the pie to cool completely. Serve the next day, slightly warmed in a toaster oven or microwave and served with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.