My sister has a cherry tree in her yard. The same sister that also has an apple tree. She has a wealth of fruit trees in her yard and lucky for me, she leaves the fruit for the birds. And by birds I mean, she leaves them for thieving little sisters. That’s me. Thus, the wealth of apple-related posts last fall. Today we move into cherry territory. Okay, so it’s actually just one recipe but I’m still pretty excited about it.
Things that I learned – tart cherries are the cherries you want to make all baked goods with. Sweet cherries are for eating raw, tart cherries are for baking. All of these years I was wondering why anyone would want a tart cherry tree. Well, clearly you have a lot more options with tart cherries than you do with sweet cherries. You technically CAN bake and can and freeze sweet cherries and of course they’re delicious just as they are. But tart cherries can also be eaten (I ate some, trust me) and they do better in baked goods.
Pitting cherries is a pain in the butt and if I ever plan to harvest all of the cherries I can off her tree, then I’ll be investing in one of those cherry-pitting machines. It was totally worth the time but I can’t say I’d be too amused if I was going to make multiple cherry-based items. Cherry jam crossed my mind and quickly uncrossed it after about five minutes in the pitting process. This was my pot of pitted cherries for one 8×8 cobbler. I can only imagine how many you’d need for jam.
The last thing I learned is that baking with fresh cherries is a LOT different than buying the canned goop. The recipe for filling can be pretty watery but it also thickens quite nicely. So while it looks runny at first, it actually firms up a lot better than the canned stuff. In all of these pictures the filling is still pretty warm but now that it’s cooled completely, the filling isn’t very runny at all. Who knew?
I was actually worried that Senor and I wouldn’t like this dessert. Neither of us are crazy about cherry pie and we are both vehemently opposed to maraschino cherries. Which is to say, I’ll eat them but I’m not happy about it. So I was nervous that it’d be a lot of work and we wouldn’t really even enjoy it.
Happily, I was wrong! When Senor went back for a second slice, it sealed the deal. The tart cherry cobbler was a success and I could once again display my backyard harvesting efforts with pride and delight. Up next, I’ll be scouring my sister’s yard for blades of wheat that I can grind up and turn into my own bread.
Tart Cherry Cobbler
for the crust
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold water
for the filling
5 cups tart red cherries, pitted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
7 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
for the topping
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
Start by pitting the cherries. An easy way to pit cherries to rest the cherry on the top of an open, empty wine or soda bottle with a small top. Alternately, a soda can will work as well, so long as the tab is opened and the can is empty. Use a chopstick to push the pit through the cherry and into the can or bottle. If you can be picky, get the biggest cherries you can find. This means less time pitting!
Once they’re pitted, heat your oven to 400 degree.
Places the cherries in a colander and rinse well. Let them drain while you ready the crust. Give them a few tosses to make sure there isn’t any extra water hanging out in there.
Prepare your crust. Cut the lard or shortening into the flour and salt. Add 4-5 tablespoons of cold water, depending on how sticky the dough feels. Knead it into a ball. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead gently until the crust is mostly smooth. Using more flour, roll out the crust to about 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer the crust to a greased 8×8 baking dish. Trim the crust all the way around so that it covers the bottom of the dish and comes up around each side about 1/4 of an inch. Poke the crust a few times with a fork.
Now that the crust is ready, place the drained cherries into a large sauce pan on medium heat. Combine sugar, lemon zest and water. Stir to incorporate. Sprinkle the cherries evenly with flour, using 4 teaspoons to start. As the cherries heat, add additional teaspoons if necessary. The mixture will get bubbly and should start to thicken. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into the pie crust.
Combine in a bowl the egg and milk. Whisk until combined and slightly frothy. Add softened butter and the dry ingredients. Mix with a spoon until just combined. Spoon up the mixture in dollops and place as evenly as possible around the dish on top of the cobbler. Sprinkle the topping with a light layer of brown sugar and ground cinnamon.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees or until the topping is evenly golden brown and the mixture is bubbling. Let cool for at least an hour before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream whenever possible.