Baking with cherries: a sweet trip through Michigan's orchards


“As kids, if we weren’t in the orchards gleaning or running wild, we were sitting on the beach pitting cherries, every inch of our sun-kissed, bug-bitten skin sticky with juice. We would carry our buckets full of cherries back to the kitchen of the old house to wait patiently as a cobbler or crisp was assembled: our reward for a hard day’s effort.”—Julia A. Reed, Sift magazine Spring 2017


What greater riches can there be than an abundance of beautiful red fruit, waiting to be transformed? Baking with cherries is the height of summer luxury.

Bake these beautiful cherry recipes from Sift magazine. Your summer will never be the same. Click To Tweet


cherry clafouti via @kingarthurflour

Cherry Clafouti

A beloved French dessert, part comfort food, part elegance, all easy. If you’re feeling adventurous, try it with fresh berries, pitted Italian, prune plums, or sliced peaches. This time of year, we think baking with cherries is the right move.

No-Knead Balsamic-Glazed Cherry Focaccia via @kingarthurflour

No-Knead Balsamic-Glazed Cherry Focaccia

The dough is simplicity itself to put together. Fresh cherries take a quick turn in a skillet with rich balsamic vinegar, amping up the sweet/tart flavor. Put everything together with a grace note of sea salt and some fresh rosemary, and you have a stunning bread to bring to the table to pair with cocktails, cheese, or a crisp salad.

cherry crisp 2 via @kingarthurflour

Cherry Crisp

A simple summer delight, assembled quickly to enjoy at leisure. Beautiful, fresh cherries glisten under a crunchy, butterscotchy crisp topping. Reach for your favorite vanilla ice cream for a treat that makes memories.

Spiced cherry breakfast ring via @kingarthurflour

Spiced Cherry Breakfast Ring 

Baking with cherries is never more rewarding then when you combine tender sweet dough and wonderful fresh fruit. This beautiful bread makes the centerpiece to a meal, but the greater satisfaction comes with your first bite.

Cherry-vanilla cream pie via @kingarthurflour
Cherry-Vanilla Cream Pie

We’ve taken a cue from an old-fashioned soda fountain favorite to make this pie. Made with a crisp, buttery crust that shows off a smooth vanilla custard filling, studded with tart cherries. It’s destined to become a family favorite.

The season is short; make the most of your chance to try baking with fresh cherries. We hope this collection of gorgeous recipes inspires you to make the most of this ruby-red fruit. Come join Sift magazine as we celebrate cherries’ brief but beautiful time in our kitchens.

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. Gretchen Peterson

    My local Farmers’ Market has 3 cherry varieties of varying degrees of sweetness – just listing ‘cherries ‘ as an ingredient is NOT enough! Please add a descriptive ‘sweet’, ‘tart’, something to help choose the best for the recipe.

    1. Susan Reid, post author

      Gretchen, we baked all of these recipes with all sour, and with a combination of half sour and half Bing (sweet) cherries. They all work for both types. Personally, I’d use sour cherries all the way, but if you’d rather use some of the sweeter varieties, simply leave out a couple tablespoons of sugar, depending on your taste. Susan

  2. Pat Hirsch

    I have dried Michigan tart cherries–is there a way to use them in these recipes for fresh cherries?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Good question, Pat. The answer depends on the recipe. The focaccia can most certainly be made using dried cherries. The Spiced Cherry Breakfast Ring and the Cherry Clafouti will likely be just fine if you rehydrate the cherries in a soaking liquid overnight, drain, and then use as directed. The Cherry Cream Pie and Cherry Crisp recipes are worth putting aside until you have fresh or frozen cherries. They just won’t be the same with dried. You can also use your dried cherries in some of these tasty recipes. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Becky Wilcox

    We are blessed in Western Montana to have lovely and abundant cherries grown along Flathead Lake. Each year we go up and pick as much as we think we can handle. I can’t wait to try these recipes, if there are enough cherries left after all the little hands from grandchildren get into them.

    1. Liz

      I was amazed to see another Northwest Montana/Flathead Lake person here – hello Becky Wilcox … I live just north of Bigfork.

      And, even though huckleberries get more press around here, I prefer the cherries both tart for baking and a bit later the sweet. For an herb to mix with cherries, I like basil and make a sweet cherry-basil syrup. 1/4 syrup and 3/4 fizzy water (I carbonate my own well water) for a refreshing beverage.

      ***I grew up in Ohio and we vacationed in Traverse Bay area late July/early August so I grew up enjoying Northern Michigan sweet cherries.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble finding sour cherries near you, fellow baker! They are a seasonal fruit, so you might want to ask some of the local farmers or grocers in your area if/when they expect to have any. If you’re still not able to find any fresh cherries, consider using frozen sour cherries, which are often easier to find. You can thaw them before using and increase the thickener slightly if making something like a pie filling. Good luck with your search! Kye@KAF

    2. Melissa F-L

      Try going to an Orchard that let’s you pick cherries. They often sell cherries already picked if you can’t or are not up to picking your own cherries. “Pre-picked” are a tiny bit more expensive that “pick you own” prices but worth it if you can’t spend the time. Either way they are usually much cheaper than store bought canned sour cherries. I live in Northern Virginia and get them every year by the quart at an orchard in Maryland just north of the Capitol Beltway. But be aware they are likely coming into season very soon in NC if not already in season right now. They will be in season here the DC area in a few weeks at the end of June and we’re at least a few weeks behind you all in NC when it comes to seasonal produce.

      If you want fresh cherries start with
      Click on the map or region you live in and you will get a new page listing nearby orchards and farms. You’ll need to spend a bit of time looking for orchards/farms that have sour cherries. The farms and orchards on listed on this site have contact info and/ or a link to their websites. I would contact them ASAP to see when they have sour cherries in season and if they sell them pre-picked if need be. I have to reserve the quantity I want a few weeks ahead of time at the orchard where I buy them or I likely can’t get them.

      Also, because we had that warm snap in February followed by freezing temps a few weeks later here in the Mid-Atlantic and further South, some crops were damaged from trees blooming too early with subsequent freezing. Many of the blooms were damaged by the freeze so some areas along the Atlantic Coast are projected to have shortages this year of local fruits especially strawberries, apples, cherries, etc. Take this into account if you find you can’t get them this year. They will most likely be available next year unless this early warming/ freezing becomes a consistent trend.

      There’s always canned sour cherries though for me that’s the last resort unless I’ve canned them myself. Hope this helps!

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