deni hooper, cherry pie recipe, cherries, the magic cherry, old mission peninsula, old mission, old mission michigan, peninsula township, old mission gazette, old mission recipes
Deni Hooper's Cherry Pie Recipe
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Since we’re in the midst of cherry season on the Old Mission Peninsula, now is a great time to share this cherry pie recipe from Deni Hooper.

Deni, who passed away many years ago, was married to Rex Hooper, and my siblings and I grew up with all their kids – Marc, Leslye (Wuerfel, who started the Traverse City Beach Bums with her family), John, Charlie and Bruce, who owns Hooper’s Farm Gardens with his wife Terry.

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The Hoopers owned a farm on Kroupa Road, always had Boxer dogs and beautiful horses, and Deni was an organizer and announcer for the horse shows at Bowers Harbor Park. Yes, there were horse shows there back in the day. Big horse shows. Story forthcoming.

deni hooper, marc hooper, john hooper, charlie hooper, bruce hooper, old mission peninsula, old mission, old mission michigan, old mission gazette, peninsula township
Deni Hooper with John, Marc, Bruce and Charlie | Ogdensburg Church Directory 1971

This cherry pie recipe is from Deni’s book, “The Magic Cherry,” a pamphlet-type book that’s hand-written in her beautiful handwriting. I’m not sure when the book came out, but there’s a little note in the front of mine in my mom’s handwriting, “To Jane, July 1984.” So I’m guessing it was around that time.

While some OMP farmers have finished shaking, many are still going strong, including my family’s Johnson Farms. I stopped by the cooling pad/receiving station yesterday, and they were shaking tart cherries, light brines, and dark sweets – all at the same time.

Wait, what?! Cherry season used to have clear-cut divisions between the varieties. And even then, it was sheer madness back when I used to run the cooling pad (before they built the beautiful one they have now – back when it was across the road from the barn – story forthcoming).

At any rate, here is Deni’s cherry pie recipe. You can find tart cherries at most of the farmstands along the road right now, including Johnson Farms, on Center Road about a half-mile north of Mapleton on the right.

Magnificent Montmorency Red Tart Cherry Pie

  • 4 c. Red Tart Montmorency Cherries – fresh, frozen or canned (pitted and drained)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. potato flour

Mix sugar, flour, and extract, and carefully mix with cherries.


  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. ice water
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cut shortening into dry ingredients; quickly mix in ice water. Divide in half, roll out and line 9″ pie plate. Trim, add filling and dot with butter. Do something with top. Fun to play with, depending on time. Fastest is a full top crust to cut out cherry shape. Double and crimp edge and brush crust with an egg milk wash.

Place in lower third of oven preheated to 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and leave until center of filling bubbles, about 30 minutes.

This is the way we like it best, tho’ we often vary it. Other flour in crust, whole wheat, eg, less cherries with an almond custard. Replace all or part of sugar with honey or pureed cherries.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


  1. Jane,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. If you don’t have fresh, frozen or canned, don’t use canned pie fill, you’ll miss that glorious taste of unslurried cherry pie. I seem to recall that the stuff that makes the pie filling thick is called slurry but I could just be having a moment. I well remember Deni’s fabulous pies and have used this very recipe for the 35 years Marc and I have been together. One of my favorite cherry pie memories is of the time Marc decided to make me a cherry pie. I didn’t have red food coloring and Marc had a temporary brain freeze and quickly substituted blue and yellow. The pie was delicious but you had to close your eyes to eat that army green version of his mother’s pie! Bless his heart. It’s been a wild 35 years!

    Brenda Hooper
    Kelseyville, CA


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