Sour Cherry Galette with Cream Cheese Crust

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This cherry galette is a free-form pie that is easy to roll out with my cream cheese crust, and easy to assemble into a rustic round. Use tart or sour cherries for classic cherry pie flavor.

The possibilities for sour cherries are endless. They’re a natural for Lebanese recipes, fitting right in with our penchant for all things sour and tart (the terms are used interchangeably to describe this type of cherry). Last week’s line-up of cherry spanned everything from cocktails to steak and fish, and tart cherries are a beautiful thing when roasted or pickled (want to see? My new friend Marla Meredith from Family Fresh Cooking captured it ever so well here, including a shot of the bright cherry guru who taught us all there is to know about tart cherry nutrition, Wendy Bazilian).

I came home from my Michigan cherry immersion and started right in by putting dried cherries in my favorite chocolate chip cookies, and cooking up a few syrupy tart cherries for pan-seared whitefish.

Over at the Harbor Springs Farmer’s Market, Tim from Farmer White’s had beautiful wooden boxes filled with three types of cherries this week, and he had the patience of a saint as I pounced on him with all of my tart cherry questions to see what I could glean about his own harvest, and how a farmer likes to eat them. Cherry bounce, he said, that’s the ticket: a big jar filled with pitted tart cherries (he pits them by squeezing the daylights out of each one so that the pit shoots out), covered with vodka and a little sugar. Please and thank you, I’ll take three.

OK, you get the picture, tart cherries are not just about pie filling anymore (and never really were).

So what am I making for you with my tart cherries, my sour cherries, my new love?

Cherry pie.

I can’t escape the fact that cherry pie is still, after all the luscious cherry ways I’ve known and loved over the last couple of weeks, the cherry on top of my heart.

And because I can’t leave well enough alone, I’m transforming this pie into her equally beautiful rustic cousin, the galette. Galettes are free form tarts, so that the pastry just sort of hugs the fruit, requiring only a simple folding up of the pastry edges around a big mound of sugared cherries. A drop or two of rose water sings our cherry song so gloriously here.

The crust is an incredibly crisp, delicious thing that I shocked myself with, given how devoted I am to my mother’s crusts. Even she was wowed (This might be the best pie you’ve ever made, she said.). It’s a forgiving dough that includes cream cheese for suppleness. Finish the galette as my mother does all pies, with a dusting of sugar when the pastry leaves the oven piping hot. Sanding or turbinado sugars are nice; we love the look and ease of granulated.

As you stare down your tart cherries, maybe you’ll run off and make a stiff cherry bounce or top your ice cream with some brandied cherries from a jar you made that has steeped a few good months. Maybe you’ll hunt down the chef at Mission Table in Traverse City to find out, as I did, what exactly he put in his pickled cherries that made them so perfect atop lake trout?

But I suspect that we are cut from the same cloth, you and me, and before the week closes you’ll be making a cherry pie, a cherry tart, a cherry galette to soothe your cherry-loving soul.

Cherry Galette with Cream Cheese Crust
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Cherry Galette with Cream Cheese Crust

Both the filling and the crust in this recipe are blue-ribbon worthy: use tart or sour cherries for classic cherry pie flavor. The cream cheese dough is incredibly forgiving and easy to roll. Galettes are all about free form, so feel free to make two smaller 6-inch or one large 12-inch galette.
Servings: 8


For the crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream, to wash the unbaked crust top

For the filling:

  • 3 cups pitted tart ("sour") cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting the crust
  • 1/4 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
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Make the dough:

  • In a food processor pulse the flour, salt, and sugar.
  • With the processor turned off, add all of the cold, cut up butter and cream cheese. Pulse until large crumbs (½ -inch) and some smaller crumbs form. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the dough comes together in a ball, but many crumbs still remain. The less the dough is worked, the more tender it will be.
  • Turn the dough and crumbs out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to shape and wrap the dough in a flat disc, or divide the dough in half and wrap each separately if making two smaller tarts, and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day.
  • Line a heavy sheet pan (18”x13”) with parchment paper. Place a rack in the
    middle position of the oven, and heat the oven to 375˚F.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the pitted cherries, tapioca or flour, sugar, rose water, and almond extract.
  • Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. If the dough is very cold and hard, let it rest for 15 minutes. Use plenty of pressure on the rolling pin to begin to soften and roll out the dough. Roll the dough in a 16-inch round (or a 12-inch round if making two smaller tarts) about 1/4 –inch thick, carefully lifting the dough off of the work surface every few rolls and adding more flour to both the rolling pin and the work surface. Gently transfer the dough to the parchment-lined sheet pan.
  • Fill the center of the dough with the sugared cherries, spreading the cherries out and leaving a couple of inches of dough around the perimeter of the cherries. Fold the edges of the dough up around the cherries, moving in one direction around the tart as you fold. Brush the top of the dough with the cream or milk.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350˚F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes for a total bake time of 45-50 minutes, or until the cherries are bubbling and juicy. Remove the tart from the oven and dust the top with granulated sugar. Cool for at least an hour so the fruit will set up before serving.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Maureen Abood
Servings: 8
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  1. Catherine says:

    I am confused about these directions:
    In a food processor pulse the flour, salt, and sugar. Turn the dough and crumbs out onto a large piece of plastic wrap.
    With the processor turned off, add all of the cold, cut up butter and cream cheese. Pulse until large crumbs (½ -inch) and some smaller crumbs form. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the dough comes together in a ball, but many crumbs still remain. The less the dough is worked, the more tender it will be.

    Aren’t these supposed to be in the food processor together? Please advise!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Catherine thank you SO much–the instructions got jostled incorrectly! Should be correct now, all ingredients are pulsed, then turned out onto plastic. A wonderful dough . . . enjoy!

  2. Sean Rami Abass says:

    Hi Maureen,
    Thanks for another great recipe and article. Cherries are also a nutritious anti-oxident that also promotes Men’s Health( according to Mark and Brian, along with plums, avocados, almonds, and grapes)

  3. Ang Lee says:

    Maureen, I have some frozen sweet cherries from this season as I live in VA and do not have access to sour cherries. Any suggestions as to how to adjust the recipe? A shame that I went to law school in Lansing and never made it to the UP!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Hi Ang–sounds like a trip back to Michigan is in order! The sweet cherries will not make the same sort of pie at all. BUT, you can try it adding a healthy portion of lemon juice, and perhaps mixing in another tart fruit like nectarines for balance with the sweetness. Let me know how it goes!

      1. Ang Lee says:

        Thanks for your prompt response. Nowadays I always head south for holidays so will only visit the UP if I come to Toronto as I have friends there. With regard to the Galette, great idea, will try a tart Granny Smith apple as I think I saw this in my Cooks Illustrated magazine. Will let you know how it worked.
        Ang Lee

  4. Maria Bill says:

    Maureen, I made your sour cherry galette this weekend using Traverse City cherries-it was fabulous! Thanks for sharing the recipe and lovely photos. I am enjoying the amazing produce this summer up here in beautiful northern Michigan.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Maria, how wonderful! I’m so glad to hear you made and enjoyed the tart. I made another one over the weekend too, a real treat!

  5. Jim Albert says:

    Beautiful presentation Maureen.

    I know for sure it would be nothing but silence and head shaking up and down (and probably some frequent mmmm’s) while I munched it down. Now one of my biggest compliments is not only the silence, head shaking and mmm’s, but also shaking the fork or spoon. This one would probably also get the fork/spoon shake.

  6. Joan Aboud-Bedard says:

    Now I HAVE to try this scrumptious- looking pie recipe. I have never used cream cheese in my crust. Sounds wonderful!Thanks again, Maureen. This is worthy of using some of my remaining, cherished, frozen sour cherries!

  7. Diane Nassir (my maternal grandmother was an Abood (Jamileh) from Ammun Leb. says:

    Tom, I love your post!

  8. Tom says:

    Absolutely perfect culmination to this week celebrating the splendor of God’s great gift of cherries to humankind.