For our July baking club meeting, our theme was cherries! We planned it to coincide with the peak of cherry picking so we could all use freshly picked cherries in our recipes. Cherry picking is a lot of fun. When the fruit is perfectly ripe, they just come off the tree so easily and before you know it, you have a giant bucket of cherries! And that's when these recipes come in handy!
But before you can use all those cherries, you've got to pit them, and that can be, well, the pits. But don't worry...you don't need a fancy cherry pitter. Among the many household items you can use: a chopstick, a bobby pin, a pastry tip, even a paper clip. My preference is to use a plastic drinking straw and an empty wine bottle. With a cherry placed on the mouth of the wine bottle, simply push the straw through the top of the cherry and let the pit fall into the bottle. Once you get into a rhythm, you'll have those cherries pitted in no time!
So at our meeting, Karen had some leftover cherries and the makings for a cherry almond dutch baby. So before getting into our tastings, she suggested we make this recipe together. It was so much fun having a group project and this recipe was a quick and easy one to do. A dutch baby is a large pancake-like treat made in a cast iron dutch oven. So once we had all our equipment and ingredients ready, we started with cooking the cherries in melted butter.
Then we poured the batter on top of the cherries and transferred the whole pan to the oven to bake.
After about 25 minutes, the dutch baby was looking golden and rumpled (a good sign!) so we took it out of the oven and squeezed some lemon juice and sprinkled toasted almonds and powdered sugar on top before serving. It's an easy and impressive looking treat - perfect for a weekend brunch.
One the dutch baby was done, we were ready to begin our tastings! Read on for everything that was on our menu!
I went back and forth on what to make for this month's theme. I pinned a lot of different ideas to my OYUMG board but kept coming back to this recipe because I just can't say no to an upside down cake! I've long made upside down cakes using an old Better Homes & Garden recipe. ButI liked the twist of this recipe with using cherries and the addition of the almond whipped cream. This cake base may very well become my new go-to for future upside down cakes. It had great flavor and baked up really nicely. The original recipe called for a 10-inch round cake pan but since I didn't have one of those, I used a 10-inch tart pan instead. It added a lovely decorative fluted edge to the cake - but if you use a tart pan, I recommend placing on top of a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any overflow (tart pans aren't particularly air tight on the bottom). Not pictured, but no less impressive, the almond whipped cream is so freakin' good and I certainly piled a huge dollop on top of my piece of cake! There's something just so intoxicating about almond extract and I will pretty much eat anything that calls for it as an ingredient.
In addition to the ingredients for the dutch baby, Karen brought two cherry treats: a slab pie made with sour cherries and brown butter bars made with sweet cherries. The slab pie was so delicious and a great way to serve pie for a crowd. The crust was flaky and tender and just the right amount in proportion to the filling. It also cut up beautifully into squares - very easy to serve! The sweet cherry bars were also delicious with the hint of brown butter flavor coming through. These bars are also an easy way to use up some leftover sweet cherries and bring to a picnic or potluck. Adding some chocolate chunks could also be a fun way to jazz it up. This is also a versatile recipe and any seasonal fruit can be substituted for the cherries.
Next up was a cool refreshing treat. Tonya brought us each our own individual container of ice cream and little containers of cherry sauce on the side. It was so much fun to have a taste of the ice cream at baking club and still have extras to take home and enjoy later! The ice cream was so smooth and creamy and the tart cherries were the perfect contrast. The cherry sauce was a great concentration of cherry flavor and made you forget any other ice cream topping ever existed. This is definitely going into my ice cream recipe folder!
KLARE: Cherry Coconut Bars
Klare came to baking club with a dessert of her own creation! Her bars were scrumptious and made with a crumbly crust of which half is pressed in a pan and pre-baked. Then a simple cherry filling was mixed and poured over the baked crust and the rest of the crust crumbled over the top. The nuttiness of the slightly sweet crust was a perfect complement to the tart cherries.
- 1 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup toasted almonds, slivered or sliced
- 1 cup toasted coconut
- 4-5 cups sour cherries, with some juice
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup sugar
Mix the butter until soft, add brown sugar and mix well. Add almond extract. Add flours and mix lightly. Stir in oats, almonds and coconuts. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of crust and press the remaining into a 9x13 pan.
Bake in a 350 oven about 20-25 minutes until firm and browned but not completely baked.
Mix 4-5 cups of sour cherries with some of the juice, the flour, almond extract and sugar. Pour on top of the pre-baked crust. Crumble and scatter the rest of the crust on top of the cherries. Bake about 25-35 minutes until it is bubbly and brown.
Last, but certainly not least, we had the most adorable trio of mini cherry pies. Gina had these cute little square ramekins and used the same crust and pie filling in all of them but topped each one a little differently. One was completely covered in crust, another had a lattice top and the third had a tasty crumb topping. All tasted like a classic cherry pie - tart filling, flaky crust and just all around deliciousness!