Friday, July 26, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sour Cherry

Fresh, sour cherries are a thing of beauty.  They are also a bit of a rarity.  The "season" as it were is so fleeting that when you happen upon them at the farmer's market, you have no choice but to buy them because they won't be there the very next week.

If you are practicing restraint and not planning to make preserves, you content yourself with one quart.  This is just enough cherries to make a pie, or better yet, a crumble.

You will need to use or freeze your cherries within a few days.  Either way, you will need to pit them.  Alternately, you may have a girlfriend who will pit them while you are at work.  Having the latter, it is the method I recommend.



With requisite vanilla bean ice cream.

I cobbled (get it?  cobbled?)  a few recipes together and came up with this:

Sour Cherry Crumble

For Cherries:
4 cups pitted sour cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
pinch salt

For Topping:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
  •  Combine all ingredients for cherries and pour into a shallow 2 or 3-quart baking dish.
  •  Slice 1 tablespoon of butter onto top of cherries.
  • Combine remaining butter, brown sugar, and flour and mix until butter is the size of small peas.  Add oats and almonds and mix to combine.
  • Sprinkle topping over cherries and bake at 325 degrees for one hour and fifteen minutes or until top is golden and cherries are bubbly.
Literate Baker notes:  It was still vexingly hot when I made this, so I baked it in my toaster oven.  Not quite as evenly baked as a regular oven, but passable.

Literate Baker confessions:  This, like the blueberry cake, was good for breakfast.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Pound of Inspiration

Once again, it's been a while since I've brought you any sweet somethings, nothings, or otherwise.  It's been a time around here--new job, crazy commutes, and moving.  In addition to having really no time to write, I've been thoroughly uninspired to bake.  It's been rather unsettling.

That changed a bit last weekend when we took a lovely stroll to the farmer's market.  That, however, is actually another post.  Which I'll write soon.  Promise.

Yesterday, I feel like the mojo truly returned.  I was taking a break from making curtains to cover some doorless kitchen cabinets, scrolling through my Facebook feed, and there it was--Alton Brown's Blueberry Pound Cake.

The curtain.
The cake.
The picture was pretty, the recipe simple, the ingredients on hand.  And, perhaps most importantly, the temperature is well below 90 for the first time in what feels like weeks.

The batter came together quickly and easily.  It really is important to beat the butter and sugar for a long time, them beat it again after adding the eggs.  It allows you to walk that deliciously fine line of rich and light.  

Butter and sugar the pan.

Whip the butter and sugar, and whip it some more.

Flour your berries.

Spread your batter.

Admire your handiwork.

From Mr. Brown's very own website:

Blueberry Pound Cake
Recipe Courtesy Alton Brown, 2013
Yield: 12 servings
This cake is a summer tradition in our house. Coating the pan with butter and sugar gives the cake a thick, crunchy crust.

8 ounces unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
15 ounces (2 cups) sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for the pan
15 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4  large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dry pint (10 ounces or about 2 cups) fresh blueberries
Strawberries, optional for serving
Whipped cream, optional for serving

Heat oven to 325˚F. Heavily coat a tube bundt pan 1 tablespoon butter and 3 tablespoons sugar

Whisk together 10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the remaining butter and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. After all 4 eggs are in, add the vanilla extract and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and combine on low speed. Do not overbeat.

Combine the blueberries with the remaining 5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour in ziptop bag and shake. Fold berry mixture into batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until probe thermometer comes out clean and registers 210˚F. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before depanning and cooling completely. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

Literate Baker notes:   I doubled the vanilla extract and also added a teaspoon of almond extract.  Blueberries love almond.  Lemon zest would be nice, too.  I served it with vanilla bean ice cream because I had it on hand.  Blueberries (as well as cakes and anyone of sound mind) love vanilla bean ice cream.

Literate Baker confessions:  We ate it for breakfast, too.

Here's hoping life has been treating you well.  I'm happy to have the old mixer back in action and happy to be back here.  Mostly, though, I'm happy to...

Keep it sweet.

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