Real Deal Cherry Pie

I had the good fortune of a day off right at the beginning of sour cherry season last week (What, you don’t mark the weeks of summer using hyper-seasonal fruit as a guide? Just me?) so I put on some sunscreen and a hat, hopped in the car, and went in search of a u-pick farm. I was not disappointed to find a row of trees, heavy with fruit and not a soul in site at a farm a few hours from Brooklyn. It was a hot, hot day and the scent of the last strawberries in the field nearby filled the air as I filled up my bucket with precious sour cherries. 

When I got home with my bounty, pie was the only choice. Instead of a traditional round, I went slab style and baked it in a quarter sheet pan. If you don’t have a quarter sheet pan or two, I highly recommend picking one up. At roughly 9x13x1, they are the perfect size to bake focaccia, a few cookies, toast nuts, or roast just about anything…but back to the sour cherries.

Pitting cherries can be kind of a pain, but since sour cherries are so soft, I usually skip the pitter and just use my thumb to ease out the pits. It’s a bit of a sticky, drippy process so you can move your operation to the sink to make clean up super easy.

I like my fruit pie fillings pretty simple, especially when the fruit is so special (and hard earned). This one is just sweet enough to highlight the cherries without totally overtaking their tart bite. I also added a bit of vanilla bean paste to round out the flavor, but a little bit of extract will do the trick too.

The all butter pie crust has a bit of rye flour and brown sugar for toasty depth that is delicious with just about any fruit if sour cherries aren’t available where you live. It might be a little intimidating to roll out such a big piece of dough, but don’t you worry. To add both flakiness and structure to the dough, this recipe calls for a series of folds. The folds will make the dough both exceptionally delicious and easier to roll out and move around. Win-win. Check out the gif above to see how it’s done.

Don’t worry if your dough rips a bit when you roll it out though, you can always pinch it back together. If you have time, make your dough the say before you plan to use it. A long rest will hydrate the dough and make it easier to roll out.

I realize, it is a little unfair to share this recipe because sour cherries can be hard to get your hands on, but you still have a few more weeks to seek them out. Frozen will work in a pinch too, or substitute an equal amount of your favorite summer fruit - you will need a little less sugar for sweeter fruit.

Real Deal Cherry Pie

Makes one 1/4 sheet slab pie

This pie makes the best of one of summer’s most fleeting pleasures, sour cherries. They are only available for a few weeks in late June/early July, but they are worth the wait, and the trouble of pitting them. The crust uses a bit of rye flour which adds some nutty and creamy flavor to the crust, and pairs beautifully with fruit desserts. Use an equal amount of all purpose flour if you have rye flour on hand. This filling recipe was lightly adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Martha Stewart, and loves sour cherries as much as I do. 

Rye Crust

340g/2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

170g/1 1/3 cups rye flour (I used Abruzzi Heirloom Rye from Anson Mills)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

10-12 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

340g/1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces


900g/about 6 cups pitted sour cherries

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (165g) sugar (I used a natural cane sugar here, but granulated works too)

30g/1/4 cup cornstarch

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Pinch salt

 To finish

1 egg, for egg wash

Turbinado sugar to finish

To make the crust: Add the flours, brown sugar, and salt to a large bowl. Stir them together until combined. Add the apple cider vinegar to the ice water. Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Then use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter as you go to ensure that each butter piece is coated with flour. The idea is to create thin, flat shards of butter that range from about the size of a dime to about the size of a quarter. Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the water over the flour mixture and use your hands to mix gently, making sure to get all of the way down to the bottom of the bowl. Continue to add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. 

You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together easily without it falling apart. 

Press the dough together, then pat it into a rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter, then split it in to two pieces one slightly larger than the other, form each piece into a rectangle and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least one hour before using, or overnight. I prefer an overnight rest if possible.

When you are ready to bake the pie, heat your oven to 400ºF.

Add the pitted cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, and salt to a large bowl and stir gently to combine.

Roll the larger piece of the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 11x15. Gently tuck it into a metal quarter sheet pan, letting the excess hang over the sides. Roll the other piece of dough into a rectangle about 10x14. 

Pour the cherries into the dough lined pan and top with other piece of dough. Gently fold the bottom dough up and over the top and press gently. Refrigerate the pie until the crust is firm, about 15 minutes.

While the pie chills, beat the egg with a few drops of water to make the egg wash. When the pie is nice and chilled gently brush the surface with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Cut a few vents in the top then bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 45-60 minutes.

Let the pie cool on a rack before serving warm or at room temperature. Ice cream is optional, but highly suggested.

Banana Cream Pie

Classic Banana Cream Pie with a cookie crumb crust, vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and fresh whipped cream is the treat you need right now.

Classic Banana Cream Pie with a cookie crumb crust, vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, and fresh whipped cream is the treat you need right now.

This Classic Banana Cream Pie is from Erin Jean McDowell’s STUNNING new MASTERPIECE - The Book on Pie (affiliate link). This book has something for everyone from brand new beginners to experienced bakers looking to up their game.

There are recipes for everything from perfect dough to some of the most beautiful decorative crusts, juicy fruit fillings, and towering gorgeous toppings I’ve ever seen. For my first bake from the book, I wanted to choose a classic and also something with PUDDING and whipped cream. Because, hello, pudding is an incredibly delicious food that doesn’t get enough credit.

Erin’s version of this classic has a roll out crust, but had some chocolate cookies and biscoff to use up (and I didn’t have the patience to chill pie dough) so I went the crumb crust route, but I don’t think Erin would mind. The book is made to mix and match crusts, toppings, and fillings to your hearts content, and every recipe has amazing troubleshooting tips and variations too. Happy Pie Baking everyone!

Classic Banana Cream Pie

Excerpted from THE BOOK ON PIE © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 




452 g / 2 cups whole milk

118 g / 1/2 cup heavy cream

150 g / 3/4 cup granulated sugar

37 g / 1/3 cup cornstarch

3 g / 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

56 g / 2 large eggs

64 g / 3 large egg yolks

28 g / 1 ounce / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 g / 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

One 9-inch / 23-cm pie crust (see below), blind-baked, and cooled completely

450 g / 3 or 4 medium bananas, peeled and thickly sliced

Full Batch of Classic Whipped Cream (page 111/below)

1.     Make the filling: In a medium pot, bring the milk and heavy cream, to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

2.     Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt to combine. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk well to combine.

3.     When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, pour about one quarter of it into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper them. Pour this mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, switch to a silicone spatula, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and large bubbles break the surface. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted and the pudding is smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

4.     Strain the pudding into the cooled pie crust and spread into an even layer. Cover the filling with plastic wrap placed directly against the surface and refrigerate until fully cooled and set, at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours).

5.     When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and arrange the bananas in an even layer on top of the pie, overlapping the slices so they are well packed together. Spread, spoon, or pipe the whipped cream topping on top. 


The crust can be blind-baked up to 24 hours head. The pie can be prepared through step 4 up to  24 hours ahead and kept refrigerated. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 Basic Crumb Crust



Crumb crusts are even easier than press-in cookie crusts. You don’t even have to bake them—see the variation at right. The crumbs can be made out of cookies, crackers, cereal, pretzels, even potato chips! Sometimes sugar or other flavorings are added to the crumbs (here the sugar is optional), and then fat (usually melted butter) is added to bind the mixture to form a crust. The crumbs can be coarse, for a crunchier texture, or finer, for a smoother texture. Different base ingredients will behave differently, so the first time I test a crumb crust with a new ingredient, I always have a little extra on hand in case I need more crumbs, or a little extra melted butter, should it be needed.

Crumb crusts don’t generally require chilling before baking, but you can refrigerate for up to 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes, if desired, to firm them up before baking. I’m also including information in a chart on page 40 to help you adapt this easy recipe for any pan size.

 210 g / 1¾ cups cookie, cereal, chip, or cracker crumbs (I used half chocolate cookies and half biscoff -Yossy)

Up to 50 g / ¼ cup granulated sugar (optional) (I skipped it because my cookies were very sweet - Yossy)

2 g / ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

85 g / 3 ounces / 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more if needed

1.     In a medium bowl, stir the crumbs, sugar, if using, and salt together to combine. Stir in the melted butter and mix to combine. The crust should easily hold together in clumps when you press it together between your fingers (if it doesn’t, add a little more melted butter, 14 g /  1 tablespoon at a time, until it does).

2.     Press the crust evenly into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch / 23-cm pie plate: First make an even layer in the bottom of the pan, then press the rest of the crumbs up the sides (or halfway up the sides—see page 61). Sometimes I use the bottom of a small dry measuring cup to help press the crust in evenly; this is especially helpful in the corners of the pan.

3.     Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C (don’t use a Baking Steel/stone when baking a crumb crust). To parbake the crust, bake (no docking or pie weights required) for 10 to 12 minutes, until it begins to lightly brown at the edges (or, for darker crumbs, smells lightly toasty). To blind-bake the crust, bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until it is deeply golden brown and/or smells toasty.


What to Do When a Crumb Crust Shrinks: One of the most common problems I’ve seen with crumb crusts is that they can shrink or slump down the side of the pie plate when the crust is parbaked. Luckily, this is easily corrected. If you notice that your crust is starting to shrink, remove it from the oven and use a crust tamper (see page 20) or a small metal measuring cup to press the crust that slumped down back up the sides of the pie plate. If this happens consistently when you make crumb crusts, try tamping them down more aggressively and/or refrigerating for 30 minutes before baking.

Classic Whipped Cream



It’s never a bad idea to serve pie with plenty of whipped cream. Think your pie is sweet enough? You can leave the sugar out—ain’t nothin’ wrong with plain ol’ whipped cream. For a luxurious twist, try the mascarpone variation below.

 FULL BATCH (for generously covering the whole pie)

235 g / 1 cup heavy cream

50 g / 1/4 cup granulated sugar

5 g / 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1.     In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the cream on medium-low speed until it begins to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and add the sugar in a slow, steady stream, then continue to whip to medium peaks. Add the vanilla, if using, and mix to combine.


Plain whipped cream is best made just before it is used, but you can intentionally under-whip the cream (to just under soft peaks), then finish by whipping by hand when you’re ready to serve. It will hold this way for up to 4 hours. The mascarpone variation can be made up to 6 hours ahead and held in the refrigerator. Whip a few times gently to refresh before using.

Excerpted from THE BOOK ON PIE © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust | Raaka Baking Chocolate

One of my very favorite chocolate makers in NYC, Raaka Chocolate, is launching a new line of baking chocolate today! They are starting with two delicious varieties,  Oat Milk 58% cacao that I used in this chocolate mousse tart and Maple Dark 75% cacao. They will launch two more varieties in the coming weeks, and they have cacao powder and cacao nibs too! I got a sneak peek of all four varieties and I have enjoyed baking with (and just plain eating) these little chocolate discs so much. 

This decadent Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust is definitely fit for a special occasion, but isn’t too tricky to put together. The crust is the easy-peasy pat in the pan variety and the mousse is just as good on its own as it is in this buttery, crisp, toasty crust. You could even just make the chocolate mousse and skip the crust all together, but don’t skip the billowy whipped cream! 

 Raaka Chocolate is unroasted which highlights all of the natural fruitiness of cacao so it’s flavor profile might be a little different than your everyday chocolate, and it is so, so tasty. They are also a company that values the community of growers, producers, and makers whose livelihoods depend on cacao and chocolate and are very transparent about their sourcing practices. You can read all about it on their website. Let me know if you try it!

 This post was sponsored by Raaka Chocolate.

Oat Milk Chocolate Mousse Tart with Browned Butter Oat Crust

Makes one 9-inch tart

This decadent chocolate tart is more than the sum of its parts. The toasty-oaty crust provides a perfect base for rich and decadent chocolate mousse made with Raaka’s sublimely delicious Oat Milk chocolate. The mousse is delicious on its own for gluten free folks too. 

Browned Butter Oat Crust

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter

2/3 cup (60g) rolled oats

1 cup (130g) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (35g) confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Water, as needed

Oat Milk Chocolate Mousse

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons strong coffee or coffee liqueur

3 large egg yolks

Pinch salt

4 ounces Raaka Oat Milk Chocolate finely chopped, plus a little more to garnish

1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

Heat your oven to 375ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch removable bottom tart pan.

Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Make sure to use a pan with a light colored interior so you can see the milk solids change color. Continue to cook the butter, stirring occasionally, scraping the milk solids off of the bottom and sides of the pan as necessary. After a few minutes the milk solids should turn golden brown and smell toasty. Transfer the toasty browned butter to a heat safe container and let it cool slightly.

Add the oats to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until the oats are broken up a bit. Add the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt and pulse about 10 times or until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Drizzle the butter into the mixture and pulse until combined. The mixture should hold together easily when you squeeze it in your hands. If it seems very dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it holds together.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan and press it evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to make the crust smooth and even. Bake the crust until it is golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Set it on a rack to cool completely.

When the shell is cool, make the mousse. 

Whisk 3/4 cup of the heavy cream to soft peaks and store in the refrigerator while you make the rest of the mousse.

Set a heatsafe bowl over a pan of simmering water to make a double boiler. Add the sugar, coffee, egg yolks, and a pinch of salt to the bowl and whisk the mixture until it is very hot to the touch (about 160ºF), pale yellow and doubled in volume. 

Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Off of the heat, add a heaping spoonful of the whipped cream and whisk it into the chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold to combine. Pour the mousse into the cooled shell, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Just before serving whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks dollop it over the mousse. Grate a bit more chocolate over the top and serve.

The Classic Birthday Cake

It’s birthday season in Apartment 2 (we lost the B in our move, years ago) and you all know I love a big ol birthday cake. I have to admit that I have been a chocolate cake/vanilla frosting devotee for many years but after trying this yellow cake recipe my preference just may be flipping upside down. It is straight from King Arthur so you can head on over to their site to check it out.

The method for mixing the cake is a little unusual, but it gives this cake a really nice crumb and moist texture. I find yellow/white cakes can be kind of bland and dry, but not this one! Make sure to use high quality cocoa powder in the frosting, it makes a huge difference.

Crushed Raspberry and Strawberry Pavlova

We are still in a bit of an in between produce season, but the weather is warming up and the sun is out so I am craving fresh fruit desserts like it’s my job. I guess it kind of is my job…I love to make desserts like this pavlova because it is fairly low lift and aside from a low, slow bake in the oven for the meringue (which you can make the day before if it’s not too humid where you live) everything comes together in a few minutes.

The tart crushed raspberries provide some nice sauciness here and contrast well with sweet strawberries and the crisp, pillowy meringue. Make sure to use the best strawberries you can find for this dessert, and adjust the sugar to your personal tastes. In NYC we get some really nice organic berries from California but they are $$ so you may just want to bookmark this until they are in season locally where you live. The mini mint leaves are also totally optional, but they do add a nice freshness and beautiful pop of contrasting color.

Crushed Raspberry and Strawberry Pavlova

Crisp and chewy meringue, pillowy whipped cream, and sweet-tart berries are combined to make this super springy, and fairly simple dessert. Assemble just before serving for the best textural experience as the meringue will weep and melt as it sits.


4 large egg whites

1 cup (200g) superfine sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon white vinegar


1 pound of the best strawberries you can find

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

pinch salt

To Serve

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream 

1 tablespoon sugar

mint leaves

To make the meringue: Preheat the oven to 250ºF (130ºC/Gas Mark 1/2). Trace an 8-inch (20cm) circle onto a piece of parchment paper and flip it upside down on a baking sheet.

Stir the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture about one tablespoon at a time until you have added all of the sugar and the egg whites are stiff and glossy about 7 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and vinegar and mix for 30 more seconds.

Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the traced circle. Make a shallow indent in the center of the meringue which will hold all of the delicious toppings. Bake the meringue for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the outside looks dry and slightly creamy in color. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the meringue cool completely in the oven. It should feel firm and crackly when you press it, but will be soft and marshmallowy in the center. When cooled, you should be able to gently peel it off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter or cake stand.  

To make the topping: Slice the strawberries in half if they are small, quarters if they are large. Combine the raspberries, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and crush the berries with a fork. Gently stir in the strawberries and let the fruit macerate for a few minutes. Taste and add a bit more sugar if desired, keeping in mind that the meringue will be quite sweet.

Whip the cream and sugar together to soft peaks. Top the cooled meringue with the whipped heavy cream, followed by the berries. Sprinkle mint leaves over the top and serve immediately.

One Bowl Passionfruit Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

I love a cake that you can stir together in one bowl, and this passionfruit cake fits the bill. It is packed with passionfruit flavor and is mouth-puckering tart, but the *ahem generous* swoops of chocolate frosting balance it quite nicely. You could also add an additional 1/4 cup (50g) sugar for a sweeter cake, but I’m a fan of the contrast. If you aren’t a huge frosting fan you may want to hold a little back when you are topping the cake. The cake is also delicious - tart, floral, and tropical - on its own. If you’d prefer to skip the frosting all together, make a little bit of glaze made from passionfruit and confectioners sugar and drizzle it over the top instead.

Would you believe that I have misplaced my sprinkles? I’m not sure how it happened, but after my Christmas cookie bonanza I managed to hide ALL OF MY SPRINKLES from myself and I didn’t discover it until I went their normal storage spot to grab some to sprinkle this beaut. In the end it was a blessing because I crushed up a handful of dehydrated raspberries for decor instead and they added a nice tart punch to the topping.

p.s. I use a spoon, instead of an offset spatula, to get these deep swoops and swirls.

One Bowl Passion Fruit Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Frosting

makes one 8-inch square cake

Frosting recipe from Smitten Kitchen’s “I want chocolate cake cake”

I used Goya brand passionfruit puree for this cake which I can find easily at most of the supermarkets in my area. Its also very inexpensive and runs about 3 bucks for 7 ounces. You can certainly make your own puree or use a higher end brand, but I’m here to tell you that the inexpensive stuff works just fine. Choose your own adventure. Although, if you can find fresh passionfruit, a few of the seeds and pulp sprinkled over the top would make a beautiful, crunchy garnish. This cake tastes best the day that it is baked, but holds up for a couple of days at room temperature. If you use dehydrated fruit as a garnish it will soften as it sits.

For a less tart cake use 1 cup (200g) sugar.

One Bowl Passionfruit Cake

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

2/3 cup passionfruit puree

1/3 cup (75g) sour cream

4 tablespoons (55g) melted unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cups (140g) cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Chocolate Frosting

2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened (or bittersweet) chocolate, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar

1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoons milk, plus more if necessary

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

fat pinch of salt

Heat oven to 350ºF and butter and flour or spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, passionfruit puree, sour cream, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt until combined and smooth.

Combine the flour and baking powder in a fine mesh sieve and sift it into the large bowl. Whisk the batter until smooth and pour into the prepared pan. Slide the pan into the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean 20-25 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.

While the cake is cooling make the frosting.

Add all of the frosting ingredients to a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy, add a bit more milk if necessary. Alternately, Deb makes the frosting in a food processor.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake and decorate with a shit-ton of sprinkles. Enjoy immediately! This cake keeps is best the day it’s baked, but will keep for a couple of days, covered at room temperature. The dehydrated raspberries will soften over time.