Memories baked in a pie

Diana Parsell learned to make pies as a girl in southeastern Ohio, watching her grandmother pinch together the fat and the flour in a large stainless steel bowl. Her grandmother’s secret ingredient – and the cookbook that rocked Diana’s pie-making world – are still with her today.

Makes 8 servings

Diana Parsell’s Sour Cherry Tart

Though the lattice top was what first hooked Diana Parsell on cherry pies, this is the recipe she’s been using for the last two decades. Photocopied from a recipe exchange cookbook called “The Pleasures of Cooking,” published in Greenwich, CT, Parsell says this recipe is adapted from a peach küchen submitted by Sue Zwick, a New Jersey cook who attributes it to her husband’s aunt Vivian Zwick from St. Louis, MO. Parsell has subbed cherries or berries for Zwick’s peaches.

To use frozen berries, thaw a 1-pound bag for about 30 minutes in a single layer on a high-sided cookie sheet or shallow pan. Drain the excess juice. Use a spatula to lift the thawed berries gently into the tart pan before adding the custard filling.


  • Crust
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

  • Custard and Fruit
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds fruit (berries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.)



Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place ingredients in a food processor bowl with a metal blade and pulse 4 to 6 seconds or until dough is crumbly. If it is too dry, add ice water a few drops at a time through feeder while pulsing, until the dough just sticks together.

Using an open palm and fingertips, press dough into a 9-inch tart pan, creating a uniform thickness along the bottom and sides. Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.


In the bowl of a food processor, place sugar, egg yolks, sour cream, flour and salt and process 5 to 8 seconds. Scrape down sides and process another 10 seconds. Pour half the custard into baked crust.

Arrange fruit and top with remaining custard. Bake 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until custard is set and top is slightly browned. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.


4 Responses to Memories baked in a pie

  1. Profile photo of Eddie Ribo
    Eddie Ribo October 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Sounds delicious! So interesting that people always make due with the ingredients available, and how lucky for her that there was a sour cherry tree in her yard to harvest her own! Growing up, our next door neighbor had a huge pear tree and I can always remember the pear butter that they made and gave to all the neighbors each year.

  2. Profile photo of Michele Kayal
    Michele Kayal October 20, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    Eddie, isn’t that fabulous! When I was a kid we had a peach tree — this is in suburban Long Island. It didn’t last long — it was there when we moved in, but it died very quickly. But during the year or two it was there, my mother made the world’s most amazing peach jam. I can taste it while I write this…..I remember cinnamon and the intense flavor of the peaches. And it was gooey. I was 5 and I thought it was the best thing ever.

  3. Margie February 2, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Diana, love your story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Like you, I love to bake pies–chocolate being the type I bake most frequently. However, I haven’t tried making a lattice top on a fruit pie. I want to do it now. No cherry trees in northwest Louisiana, but I can find them in the grocery story.

    Happy pie baking!


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