Kissed with whiskey and a hint of cinnamon and chile and nestled in a gluten-free, whole-grain crust, this wildly flavorful dessert will make all your spiced bourbon cherry pie dreams come true. Adapted from my cookbook Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours.
This pie is inspired by one of my favorite people in the world, my niece Cierra, who’s about to enter her senior year at Marymount Manhattan where she’s studying musical theater. My sister and I visited NYC this past spring and one of the highlights was seeing the musical Waitress, written by and starring Sara Bareilles. My sister and I were so moved by the music, plot, and characters that it took us a good 15 minutes after the lights came up of dabbing our eyes, looking at each other and laughing, then bursting into tears again, before we could get up and leave.
But phenomenal singing, dancing, acting, songwriting, and production quality aside, the thing that impressed me the most was when Sara Bareilles MADE PIE CRUST ONSTAGE. This gifted goddess casually rolled out the dough, pressed it into the pan, trimmed and crimped it, all while reciting lines in a southern accent in front of hundreds of people.
Not gonna lie: if I had to make my pie dough in front of hundreds of people, I would cry even harder and longer than I did after Waitress’s stirring finale.
While I’m fond of my pie dough’s abundance of flavor from oat, millet, and chia, its lack of xanthan gum, and its fabulously flaky finish, it’s undeniably a beast to make. It contains 3 flours, 2 starches, and ground chia seed in addition to the usual suspects – butter and a bit of salt and sugar. It also uses buttermilk, which I keep around pretty much for the sole purpose of making pie dough – luckily it keeps FOREVER, much longer than the expiration date lets on. While all of these ingredients add up to big flavor and flake, putting it together can be as daunting as singing karaoke to a 3-octave Sara Bareilles song (which is something I did not attempt while in NYC despite having the opportunity).
Next, there’s the whole cutting in the cold butter thing, then adding just the right amount of liquid to form a dough that holds together but doesn’t get overly sticky and tough. This mixture chills, and then in order to get a workable dough, you have to laminate it in the manner of croissant dough, by rolling it out and folding it up a couple of times. At first, the dough is nightmarishly crumbly to roll. As the rolling pin glides over dough that wants to break apart like the universe accelerating into entropy, it will begin to stick to the work surface. Heaven forbid you try to flip the dough over – it will give an evil chuckle before dissolving into particles between your fingers. Instead, use a bench scraper to move the dough off to the side, dust some flour on your work surface, and move the dough back.
When you’ve made it through one “turn” (folding the dough in thirds like a letter, then in thirds again the other way), the hard work is done. The second time you roll the dough it will be far more pliant and smooth, and after the second turn, you’ll be able to work it *almost* like wheat dough. You still won’t want to shape this crust before a large audience of Broadway theater-goers, but trust me – you’ll be able to muscle it into the pan only shouting a few expletives (in a southern accent or otherwise) along the way.
I’ve managed to streamline my pie dough process a bit by making the initial dough in the food processor. The trick to keeping the butter in large enough chunks is to cut the dough into slices, not cubes, and only begin to pulse the mixer as you add the liquid down the feed tube in a slow and steady stream. If done correctly, this will result in evenly moistened dough with butter chunks that vary from tiny peas to large lima beans, which is just what we want. Since this dough is free from gluten, it can handle more liquid than wheat dough. It benefits from being a bit on the wet side which makes it easier to work.
My niece has a fierce love for cherry pie, so I decided to make this spiced bourbon cherry pie recipe in her honor, adapted from the cut-out pies in Alternative Baker. It’s got a kick of booze because Cierra is a connoisseur of craft cocktails. It’s got a hint of fire and spice because so does she. And it’s topped with stars because that’s what she is. (We call her Diva.)
Sweet, dark cherries bake into a chunky jam studded with juicy fruit. The bourbon and spices add beguiling depth of flavor while letting the fruit hog the limelight, and just enough sugar and cornstarch thicken it into a sliceable consistency. All of this burgundy goodness contrasts the aforementioned flavorful, flaky pastry which I showered in a sprinkling of smoked sugar (though any coarse sugar will do the trick).
Bite into a slice of this spiced bourbon cherry pie topped with a drippy scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’ll forget within seconds all the effort that went into making it.
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) ice water
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
- 3⁄4 cup (110 g) sweet white rice flour
- 1⁄2 cup (55 g) GF oat flour
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (50 g) millet flour
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (45 g) cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons (25 g) tapioca flour
- 4 tablespoons (25 g) finely ground white chia seed
- 11⁄2 tablespoons (20 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 3⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 g) cold, unsalted butter, sliced 1⁄4" (6 mm) thick
- 6 cups pitted sweet cherries (fresh or frozen and not defrosted; about 2 ½ pounds [1,120 g])
- 3⁄4 cup (150 g) organic granulated cane sugar
- 1⁄4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1⁄8 tsp fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) bourbon whiskey (GF such as Queen Jennie if highly sensitive, or GF brandy)
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) milk or cream
- 1 tbsp (15 g) smoked sugar or coarse sugar (demerara or turbinado)
- vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Combine the ice water and buttermilk in a small pitcher and chill until needed. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sweet rice, oat, and millet flours with the cornstarch, tapioca flour, ground chia seed, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and place the lid on the food processor, but don’t process yet! Simultaneously pour the cold buttermilk mixture through the feed tube in a slow and steady stream while pulsing the food processor all the while until all the liquid is added and the butter is broken down into chunks of varying sizes from tiny peas to lima beans. The dough should hold together when squeezed; if it needs more liquid to come together, gently pulse in a tablespoon or two more ice water.
- Press the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc in a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and chill for up to 3 days.
- Let the dough soften at room temperature for 10 – 20 minutes to make it easier to roll. On a surface dusted lightly with oat flour, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about ¼" thick. As you work, dust the top of the dough with oat flour, using a dry pastry brush to sweep away the excess. If the dough begins to stick to the work surface, use a bench scraper to move it to one side, dust the surface with more flour, and return the dough to the surface to continue rolling. Don’t worry if the dough crumbles and wants to fall apart, just press it back together. Once the dough is rolled out, fold it in thirds like folding a letter, then roll it up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for 30 minutes. Optionally (preferably), repeat this step once more. The dough will get smoother and easier to work with as you make these turns.
- Divide the dough into two portions of approximately two-thirds and one third. Roll the larger piece of dough into a 12-inch round, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking, and ease the dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim the dough to a ¾-inch overhang and fold it under itself. Crimp the crust with your thumbs and forefingers, and prick the bottom all over with the tines of a fork. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes, or wrap and chill for up to 1 day.
- On a surface dusted lightly with oat flour, roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 9-inch (23-cm) round about 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) thick. Use a fluted cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (or small glass) to cut out shapes measuring about 2-inches in diameter. Place the dough shapes on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill until firm, 20 minutes. Optionally, press the dough scraps together, wrap and chill until firm, and repeat the rolling/cutting process once more.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, top with a baking stone if you’ve got one and preheat to 425ºF (220ºC). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- To make the filling, in a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt to combine. Add the cherries and bourbon, tossing to combine, and let sit 10-20 minutes to draw out the juices a bit.
- Spoon the fruit and juices into the chilled crust, smoothing it flat. Place the chilled dough shapes over the top of the fruit, overlapping them slightly and leaving lots of windows for the steam to escape. Brush the rounds with the cream or milk and sprinkle with the smoked or coarse sugar.
- Place the pie on the lined baking sheet and slide into the oven on the baking stone. Bake at 425ºF (220ºC) for 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling thickly, 35–50 more minutes. (Err on the side of overbaking lest you wind up with soupy filling that doesn't set.) Let the pie cool completely to set the fruit, at least 2 hours, then cut into wedges and serve at room temperature with ice cream. The pie is best shortly after baking and will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerated for up to 3 days.