Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Alchemy of Baking

To go from this:
Organic Bing cherries from Morton's Orchards.

To this:
Hot, bubbling, cherry cobbler.

Always seems like a fantastical piece of kitchen magic.

The hardest part, really, is pitting the cherries. I borrowed Heather's cherry stoner (Duuuude! These cherries are like, so juicy!) and set to work. I was soon after stained in cherry blood in speckles all down my shirt, shorts, legs and feet. My hands still haven't recovered.

It takes a fair amount of time to pit 6 pounds of cherries (I made two cobblers: one for us and one for Heather.), but not a lot of effort, per se. In the end, though, it's all worth it. Add a liberal dollop of vanilla ice cream and you have a seasonal treat worth waiting for.

Again, all of this took place while the twins were napping. Hooray for naps!

Recipe anyone?

Thought so!

Bing Cherry Cobbler
From Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking, p. 197.

5 cups (2 lb) pitted fresh Bing cherries (about 3 lb unpitted)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp sugar (You can probably get away with less, depending on how sweet your cherries are.)

2/3 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c AP flour
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp sugar (I used Turbinado sugar for extra crunch) mixed with 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Stir together cherries, lemon juice and sugar until well mixed in a 9" glass or ceramic baking dish with sides at least 2 3/4 inches high. Bake the fruit for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
  3. In your measuring cup, stir together buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in bowl of mixer.
  5. Add butter pieces and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas form, about 30 seconds.
  6. Slowly pour in buttermilk mixture and continue to mix just until combined and a soft, sticky, evenly moistened dough forms.
  7. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the hot fruit (This is actually a key step, since the heat of the fruit helps to cook the underside of the dough. Otherwise, you'd get dough cooked on top and gummy underneath. Bleah!). The topping will spread during baking to cover the entire surface. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  8. Bake the cobbler until the fruit filling is bubbling, the topping is browned, and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Serve warm.
The cherries don't break down completely, but there's plenty of cherry juice in the bottom. The topping is pretty yummy all on its own, as the twins can testify to. Eric, who doesn't like cooked cherries, likes this enough to inhale the biscuit portion and any cherries stuck to it. Loose cherries though, are offered to the twins. They don't object too strenuously.

Logan, as usual, goes nuts when you offer him sliced fresh cherries. He does his funny little hoot/grunt/lip smacking. Emma actually manages to gnaw the cherry meat off and spits out the skin. I'm not exactly sure how, but the magic of gumming your food is involved somehow.

OK, maybe you didn't need that last visual before preparing to make this cobbler....

BTW, this also works fantastically well for any other fruit cobbler you'd like to throw together: peach, blueberry, berries, rhubarb, apples, pears or whatever floats your boat.



Jennifer H said...

That little skill of Emma's will also serve her well when she's about 90.


This sounds sooo yummy.

Missy said...

MMmmmmmm...I think I know at least one way I am going to spend my long weekend.

Elaine A. said...

This sounds SOOOO yummy, well except that I would probably eat it like your husband since I am not a huge fan of cooked cherries. I love that you used fresh ones though. The best!

Cinnamon said...

Try using real Cinnamon in your recipe and reduce on the sugar.

The Cinnamon that we buy in the US is actually Cassia. Cassia has a chemical called coumarin which could be toxic.

Please click the below link to read more.

screamish said...

mmmm...cherries.....baking though has always been a mystery to me...just can't do it...but I enjoyed reading about it.

And GUMMING...thanks for that image!

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