I have become reacquainted with cherries.
All my life I’ve hated them. Mostly, if I remember right, because of the thick chewy skins. There’s a big beautiful sour cherry tree in our yard, and for the first two years we’ve lived here, I’ve virtually ignored it — just occasionally picking a few for Amy, and letting the birds and the in-laws pick the rest.
This year, I have picked colanders full. I already posted about my attempt at a clafoutis — which was tasty but had too many cherries and was insufficiently sweetened, and perhaps the cherries were picked still too early. But I tasted one of the cherries while I was pitting the bunch, and it was nice, and so I decided to try the clafoutis and not just make it for Mark and Amy. And I liked it — mostly.
The next colander was picked at the height of ripeness; the cherries were deep red and pulled off so easily. (I am slowly learning that most things are insufficiently ripe if you have to pull them.)
This time, I made a cake.
My mom used to make this cake or one like it — a yellow batter spread in a jellyroll pan, dotted with cherry pie filling, cut into squares with a circle of cherry in the middle of each one. I used a recipe I found online, except I used one cup of whole wheat flour, one and a half of regular flour, and a cup of oats. The recipe didn’t specify which kind of butter to use, so I used up my last two sticks of unsalted and one stick of salted. I bet the texture of the cake would have been lighter if I’d waited for the butter to properly soften, instead of just cutting up into tiny bits. Oh, and this cake batter would make awesome strawberry shortcakes.
I’d made the pie filling the night before, using the recipe in my New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook — cherries boiled, sugar and cornstarch mixed in, cooked until bubbly. I used a quarter cup less sugar than called for and could have used even less.
And the remains are resting in the freezer until the in-laws visit this weekend.
I don’t think I’ll ever so love cherries that I’ll long for canned cherry pie filling and the like, but it is really nice to be able to enjoy something that’s growing right in our yard.