Sour Cherry Pie – Mom’s Specialty

July 30th, 2014


There are three foods from back home that I find myself missing consistently – wild mushrooms, black currants, and sour cherries. I made sure to eat good portions of each while I was visiting my mother in Russia this past May. Most people won’t eat black currants and sour cherries raw, as they are, but add the slightest touch of sweetness to them, and your heart will be stolen. Sour cherries made it into many of my meals – from morning yogurt to salads, to ice-cream. And of course there was the Sour Cherry Pie – my mom’s specialty.


When we finally arrived at my mom’s house after a very long transatlantic journey, we knew what would be waiting for us at teatime – a fragrant and pillowy pie, jeweled with sour cherries. All her grandchildren get a wild sparkle in their eye when talking about grandma’s pie – it is a family-wide obsession. Paloma, the youngest, had her initiation and was quick to join the circle of cherry pie lovers.
My mom always makes sure to preserve some sour cherries while they are in season. She pits them with a hair pin, then freezes some and cans the rest with a little sugar. That way, she always has ammunition for when company turns up.


I was curious to make a gluten-free version of the pie and began the search for ingredients. What has become second nature to me at home, turned out to be quite a challenge in Russia. Finding all kinds of gluten-free grains there is not a problem – buckwheat, millet and quinoa are widely available, but flours made of those grains are not. I freshly grind my own flours at home, but only with the help of my high-speed blender, which was absent in my mom’s kitchen. I finally used a coffee grinder and ended up with grainy, but perfectly workable flours.
I really loved the final result – the overall flavor of the pie was different from mom’s of course, but delicious in its own way.


One more thing before we get to the recipe –
Public speaking has hardly been my favorite thing, in fact I find it absolutely terrifying. During the four years of working on this blog, I ran into situations when I had to speak in front of big groups of people, during cooking classes and such. As difficult as it was to get started, I’ve noticed that when I speak about the subject that I absolutely love, my fear disappears and I actually enjoy the process. Our cookbook coming out has brought on a new wave of public events, and after a little over a month of book talks, I’ve noticed the stage fright getting lighter every time. For that, I accredit my friendly and encouraging audiences -thank you so much for coming out to support me, listen with great interest, and ask thoughtful questions.


Sour Cherry Pie
(adapted from here)

Note: Green markets and health food stores have sour cherries while they are in season, for a very short period of time. You can find frozen sour cherries in many Eastern European stores in the U.S. – our local Russian market sells them. Feel free to use regular cherries or other fruit/berries. The best ratio between the dough and cherries is to have just enough dough to barely cover each cherry. The dough will rise during baking and the balance between the juicy, tart berries and the sweet dough will be perfect.

1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Turbinado sugar plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top
zest of 2 lemons
3 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
3-5 cups or more pitted fresh or frozen and partially thawed sour cherries – the more the better (substitute with regular cherries or other fruit/berries)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180C). Thoroughly grease an 8-10 inch cake pan or line with parchment paper. Combine the coconut milk and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the flours, baking powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and lemon zest and rub together until fragrant. Add in eggs, coconut milk mixture and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix to combine.
4. Gently fold in the cherries, reserving about 1/3 of them. Pour the batter into the cake pan, topping with the reserved cherries and sugar.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before removing. Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Tags: cherry, dessert, gluten free

  • Yum! I’ve actually never tried sour cherries but this seems like the perfect recipe to test them with.

  • That looks so good! I love anything with cherries.
    Here in Brazil those flours are not easy to find, if not impossible. Your cake turned out beautiful with your homemade flours.

  • Sour cherries played a big role in my childhood as well. And your mom pitting them with a hair pin — now that’s true love and devotion!

  • Alanna says:

    This dessert looks divine, packed with sour cherries and good-for-you ingredients.

  • I saw this on instagram and just had to pop by and read the whole post! I love how the top of the cake has cracked and the little cherries are popping up on the surface, here and there. Thanks so much for sharing this beauty of a cake and details of your native Russia.
    All the best


  • Michelle says:

    This looks lovely. How would you suggest veganizing this cake? Flax seeds for the eggs? Thanks!

  • This is a beautiful pie, and you devotion to foods of your youth is beautiful too. I find it very inspiring :)

  • Masha says:

    Privet! I literally just discovered your website, and I have to say I’m floored away by the awesome recipes and wonderful photos! I have to say our mothers sound quite similar, anytime we go for a visit, she always has dark tea and pie waiting. I’m from Rostov, so I feel like maybe their cooking style is quite similar! She’s promising some vareneke with sour cherries soon. Yum! Have a great day and thanks for the inspiring website, can’t wait to try some of you recipes!

  • Анна says:

    Аня, спасибо Вам огромное за прекрасные рецепты, особенно GF. Перешла на все безглютеновое, здорово помогает тем, у кого проблемы с щитовидной железой. Сегодня заказала Вашу книгу на Амазоне (в Германии), жду с нетерпением! Делала sour cherry pie по Вашему рецепту, пришлось добавлять жидкости, смесь из разных видов муки не смешивалась и оставалась сухой. Подозреваю, дело в cup measures. Ваша чашка – это объем 250 мл? Все равно получилось очень вкусно, но хотелось бы прояснить почему у меня не вышло точно по Вашему рецепту) Спасибо большое! Вы – замечательная!

    • Anya says:

      Анна, спасибо вам большое за комментарий и тёплые слова! Я проверила рецепт и нашла 2 ошибки. Во-первых, я указала оливковое масло в списке ингредиентов, но не написала когда его добавлять. Может быть поэтому вы его не добавили и тесто в результате было сухим? Во-вторых, лучше использовать 3 яйца вместо 2-х, хотя я думаю, что это вряд ли было причиной сухости. Да, в чашке 250 мл. Я пекла этот пирог несколько раз, тесто всегда было жидким. Надеюсь, что мы нашли причину, извините за неточности. Ошибки я исправила, спасибо вам за это! Удачи!

      • Анна says:

        Спасибо Вам огромное! Да, действительно, оливковое масло не добавила) Буду снова его делать: добавлю оливковое масло и 3 яйца, так же буду иметь ввиду, что Ваша чашка – 250 мл. А книгу доставят уже завтра, я очень этому рада!

  • danijela says:

    My parents in Croatia still have three sour cherry trees in their garden! Also the Marasca Sour Cherry which is my favourite. Your story reminds me of my childhood sooo much. I grew up with this kind of pie.
    Love, D.

  • Adia Taliaferro says:

    I’m totally in love with your recipes. How could I veganize the cherry pie? What would you use to substitute for the eggs where the pie would have the same body as if it weren’t vegan? What would be the measurements of the substitute ingredients?

    • Anya says:

      Thanks Adia! It’s hard to make this type of pie without eggs, especially when working with gluten-free flours. It may be possible to find substitutes for the eggs if wheat flour is used, but I haven’t try it myself.

  • александра says:

    Очень понравился рецепт и пааетитный вид пирога!
    А вопрос такой-а можно кокосовое молоко заменить на коровье?Просто где я живу(Грузия)-нет кокосового молока в продаже!Всего хорошего!

    • Anya says:

      Александра, спасибо! Сама я не пробовала использовать коровье молоко в этом рецепте, но практически уверена, что можно. Удачи!


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