Cakes, Pies & Tarts, Dessert

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

Nicoletta August 30, 2018

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Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie, plump and juicy local cherries and Saskatoon berries are enveloped in a light and crumbly crust made of a blend of all-purpose and rye flour. Sweetened with coconut crystals, it is a lighter and healthier version of a pie, and absolutely delicious!

Song of the day: A Sky Full Of Stars – Coldplay

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

It seems like every summer, for days, our beautiful Alberta sky loses its pure blue color and gets a thick veil of smoke blurring the landscape and giving everything an eerie yellow glare. The air smells like a campfire and although it can trigger a happy memory at first, you soon find it hard to breathe and better to be in close quarters than outdoors.



The wonderful neighboring British Columbia region, every summer has been suffering from major wildfires that devastate the land and cause immense disaster and its smoke travels to us, miles and miles away from there. Our sun turns an unusual red color, the sky and the light veiling everything are yellow, the air is thick with smoke and some days you cannot even see 100 meters in front of you.

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

In one of those past days, I decided that staying home and not going anywhere was the best thing to do. And in one of those “confined” days, I bake. The light was horrible to take pictures, and even after the editing, I can still see that yellow glare in all these pictures. But the pie was too good not to share it with you.

In the freezer, what was left of last year’s sour cherries and Saskatoon berries. A beautiful pair they are, one tart and juicy, the other sweet and plump. I had already used them together in a galette that didn’t hit the blog but only our social media account and that I made for a dinner with friends. I used the recipe for my Saskatoon Berry Galette with Lemon and Thyme, if you were wondering, and replaced the filling with half sour cherries and half Saskatoons. Amazing!

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

Saskatoons, that I am calling here ‘Prarie berries’ because that is their habitat, and sour cherries, are the perfect filling for a lighter and healthier version of a pie that I had in mind, using a blend of all-purpose flour and organic rye flour from one of our local vendors at the market, Gold Forest Grains.

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

Using rye flour makes for a hearty crust, with a bit of nutty flavor, sweet and crumbly. We absolutely loved the texture, especially paired with a juicy fruity filling. I will be using it again in pies, and muffins, for sure! The use of coconut crystals, then, makes it free of refined sugars and enhances a beautiful dark brown color.

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

I found the pie pastry to be more delicate and therefore trickier to roll without breaking, but patching the ‘holes’ that occur is always allowed in pie and tart making. The outcome will be pretty fantastic, anyway.

This Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie has so much to say as you go into it with your fork. Prominent is the light crumbly flaky crust that has wonderful nutty notes and that melt in your mouth buttery backdrop. Then in comes those prairie berries. The sour cherries with that slight tartness is easy on the taste buds as the coconut crystals have danced their sweetness to balance out the flavor. I love how the sour cherries are still plump and juicy and with the saskatoons and their beautiful almond/vanilla meets blueberry taste, this pair is a match made in heaven. A dollop of vanilla ice cream on top is the icing on the cake as its creaminess is the perfect texture to finish off this ensemble. I see Loreto across from me trying to get every crumb and juice puddle onto his fork. I am seeing in his eyes a desire to lick the plate, but his strict upbringing brings that to a halt, but the smile on his face tells me this Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie is just what it is, delicious and fulfilling.

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie


Song of the day: A Sky Full Of Stars – Coldplay

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert, Pies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: North American


Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie, plump and juicy local cherries and Saskatoon berries are enveloped in a light and crumbly crust made of a blend of all-purpose and rye flour. Sweetened with coconut crystals, it is a lighter and healthier version of a pie, and absolutely delicious!

Adapted from a recipe found on the beautiful “The No-Sugar Dessert and Baking Cookbook” by Ysanne Spevack.


For the pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) rye flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp coconut crystals
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 181 g vegetable shortening (or 2 sticks, 225 g unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 (120 ml) cup of ice-cold water
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

For the Filling:

  • 6 cups (450 g) fruit (between cherries and berries)
  • 2 Tbsp rye flour
  • 1 cup coconut crystals
  • 1/3 cup (50 g) ground almonds

For the top:

  • 1 Tbsp milk (any kind)
  • some coconut crystals (or turbinado sugar)


For the pastry:

  1. Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the coconut crystals, and salt.
  2. Mix the water and almond extract in a cup.
  3. Add pieces of the shortening (or the cubed cold butter) to the flour mixture and rub lightly with your fingertips to make a texture of coarse breadcrumbs, with smaller and bigger pieces.
  4. Add half of the water/almond mixture mixing it gently with your fingers. Keep adding a tablespoon at a time until the dough is wet enough to hold together in a ball (you may or may not use all the water. I used it all).
  5. Divide the dough into two equal discs (I used a scale to weigh them) and cover them with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight. At this point, you can also freeze the dough for up to 2 weeks.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and grease a pie dish (23cm/9inch) with butter (or shortening).
  7. Let the dough come to room temperature and in the meantime make the filling.

For the filling:

  1. Put the sour cherries and Saskatoons in a large bowl. Add the coconut crystal, and the rye flour. Stir, and set aside.


  1. Dust the work surface and the rolling pin with rye flour, then roll out one of the discs of dough into a circle of about 30cm/12in diameter (bigger than the pie dish) and about 3mm/1/8in thickness. If the pastry breaks you can patch the holes. Leave the other disc in the fridge.
  2. Fold the pastry onto the rolling pin then unfold it gently into the pie dish, patching any holes that may occur. Press the sides gently and cut away any excess pastry with a knife.
  3. Sprinkle the ground almonds at the bottom of the pie, then pour the cherry/berry filling and spread evenly.
  4. Remove the second pastry disc from the fridge and roll it out to the same circle of about 30cm/12in diameter and about 3mm/1/8in thickness. Transfer the pastry to the top of the pie using the rolling pin, and press down the edges of the pie to seal the pastry. Cut away any excess pastry, re-roll and cut into leaf-shaped decorations, using a leaf cutter or a sharp knife (I used a plunger/cutter).
  5. Top the pie with the pastry leaves, as many as you wish, cut a hole in the center (I used the back of a piping bag nozzle) and some smaller holes (I used the round tip of the nozzle). Brush with the milk and sprinkle the top with the coconut crystals (or turbinado sugar).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375°F (190°C) and bake for additional 25 minutes. Check it, then continue baking for 15-20 minutes more, then remove from the oven.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm, or cool completely. Either good eating a slice by itself or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.


I used vegetable shortening because I had some in the fridge that I wanted to use up. I relied on the internet for help with shortening/butter substitution. Here is the link to the site.

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Prairie Berry and Sour Cherry Rye Pie

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  • Avatar
    Reply Jessica August 30, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Cherry pie is one of my favorite pies and I love this one with coconut crystals and rye flour, very interesting!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 30, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Thank you! This pie is really awesome, sweeter and more crumbly, with a wonderful filling 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Linda August 30, 2018 at 11:54 am

    We don’t have access to fresh sour cherries, so don’t know if sweet cherries would work in this recipe. This pie looks delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 30, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Thanks! It is absolutely delicious and yes, it would work great with just regular cherries.

  • Avatar
    Reply Anna August 31, 2018 at 1:50 am

    Such an interesting recipe! For some reason sour cherries are quite hard to find here in the UK, but I’m sure it tastes delicious! Perfect summer pie!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks! In Italy, they are called Amarene and they are pretty popular, I don’t know about UK 🙂 . They are beautifully sweet and tart, perfect for a rustic pie.

  • Avatar
    Reply Elaine August 31, 2018 at 6:39 am

    It was great to find out more about saskatoons. I don’t use them often hence this was a pretty exicting recipe for me to read. I guess I will start from it whever I have saskatoons next time.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 31, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks, Elaine! Glad to help 🙂 You could replace them with blueberries, very similar.

  • Avatar
    Reply Chef Markus Mueller August 31, 2018 at 11:33 am

    What a beautifully rustic looking pie. Even the name ‘prairie berry’ adds to the sense that could have been baked by settlers years ago. It’s unfortunate about the yearly wildfires, and for the first time even here on the East Coast we could see a haze in the air, and the moon was an eerie red colour at night. It really made me realize that we are living in a time of immense change, and things that used to be normal no longer are. I see this especially in my garden every year as the seasons slowly shift and become hotter, shorter and more unpredictable. A good reminder that even simple things (such as a rustic pie) shouldn’t be taken for granted.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta August 31, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      What a nice comment, Markus, you made my day! 🙂 Rustic, simple baking is my favorite. It was pretty bad this year for wildfires! Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Reply Jenni September 1, 2018 at 8:44 am

    I love the name of this pie! Prairie Berry sounds like something I would have pulled out of an old homesteading recipe book or something that was passed down generations. It also looks like an especially great pie. I love that you can be flexible with the amounts of each type of berries or cherries.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 1, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Thank you! Yes, you can make it also all cherry or all berry, but I really love the combination of both in this pie.

  • Avatar
    Reply Michele September 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    That is a gorgeous pie and it’s calling my name! Sounds so lovely with cherries and prairie berries. I don’t make pie nearly enough but I would LOVE to try this recipe.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

      The combination of the fruit was absolutely lovely, paired with that crust, outstanding. Thank you!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kitty September 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Seeing ao many of my blooger friends up north baking with saskatoon berries! I feel like as a foodie I need to take a trip just to try the berries! Looks delicious!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:26 am

      They are indeed wonderful berries, I am so lucky I got to know and bake with them. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Heather September 2, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    First… this pie is gorgeous! Love how rustic it looks.. Second, that a fabulous combination of flavors! Great new take on a classic

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Thank you so much! I am pleased on how it turned out, both for flavor and looks.

  • Avatar
    Reply Nicole September 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm

    I have never heard of a Saskatoon berry. With this pie I Would love to give it a shot.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

      They are plump, sweet little berries, gorgeous in a pie. Thank you, hope you fond them!

  • Avatar
    Reply Shanna Jones September 2, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    The addition of coconut crystals sounds very interesting! Love cherry pie and this version just gave it an upgrade. Looks amazing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Thank you!! I love baking with coconut crystals, it gives such a nice warm color and a lovely flavor, while being a healthy replacement for refined sugar.

  • Avatar
    Reply Sally Humeniuk September 3, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Oh my word! This recipe is so intriguing and different. I’ve never heard of Saskatoon berry. Thanks for posting such a different, tempting recipe.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:31 am

      Thank you! These berries grow in this climate and they pair wonderfully with the sour cherries. Together they make an unforgettable pie!

  • Avatar
    Reply Mimi September 3, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    This pie is beautiful! Never heard of these berries, but they obviously make a good pie!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Thank you!! Paired with the sour cherries they are amazing! One plump and sweet, the other juicy and tart. A match made in heaven.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop September 3, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    We too had the horrible smokey skies for a couple of weeks. This past week has been beautiful though. I’m hoping the fires are under control now. Your pie turned out beautifully. I love the combination of berries and cherries!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Thank you, Kathy! We jumped right into Fall with frost at night and chilly mornings. This pie is really something else, thanks to those berries and cherries.

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