Coping with the cherry glut.

A couple of kilos of donated cherries

I am up to my eyeballs in cherries. Every night one or another of the neighbours knocks on the door and another couple of kilos arrive.

Stoning cherries isn’t my favourite job; if they are just about ripe I can slit them with a knife and flick the stones out with my fingernail without too much trouble but I had fallen behind lately and today’s cherries were really super ripe and so I had to use the stoner which is messy and means assuming a martyred expression and sitting outside by the pool to stone them so all the stickiness can be washed off when it gets too much to bear. Cherry juice washes off travertine really easily but won’t come off skin, so I now have bright blue fingers and I look like a bloody Smurf.

I have a freezer full of frozen cherries but here are a couple of my favourite fresh cherry recipes.

Crunchy topped Cherry Cake

Crunchy topped cherry cake

This is a real old fashioned cake like the type your Gran used to make, the crumbly topping is lovely, and personally I could just eat a bowl of that on its own!

For the crunchy topping

3oz plain flour
3oz Demerara sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3oz butter

For the cake

2 eggs
6oz butter
5oz sugar
5oz plain yoghurt
9oz plain flour
1 small tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
7oz cherries, stones removed

For the glaze

3 oz icing sugar
2 tbsp milk

Rub the butter, sugar and flour for the crumble topping together until breadcrumby and put to one side.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and butter together until fluffy and pale, add the yoghurt and whisk some more. It may go a bit curdled but don’t worry just start adding the flour and it should smooth out. Add the flour, cinnamon, bicarb and baking powder gradually until you have a soft cake batter, you may need to loosen it a bit with a splash of water if you are using thick suzme yoghurt.

Pour half of the cake batter into a prepared cake tin, scatter the cherries over and then pour the remaining half on top. Finally scatter your prepared crumble mix on top of everything. Bake in a medium oven for about 45 minutes.

Once cooked allow to cool and then drizzle the glaze made from icing sugar and milk over the top.

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a rustic French dessert of black cherries baked in a rich custard batter and normally served luke warm dusted with sugar. I tried to cook it years ago using a Good Housekeeping recipe and it wasn’t very nice, now I use Raymond Blanc’s recipe (love Raymond!) and it is sweeter and richer and leaving the cherries to macerate in sugar for a couple of hours does makes a difference.

For the cherries

1lb ripe cherries, the best you can find, stones removed
3 tbsp sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tbsp kirsch (optional – very optional in my case, not a chance, so I used raspberry liqueur that I had lurking in the wine rack)

For the batter

1 oz butter, plus extra for greasing
2 eggs
3 tbsp sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
2 fl oz whole milk
2.5 fl oz whipping cream
pinch sea salt

Mix the cherries and the sugar and your liqueur if you are using it together and put in the fridge for a couple of hours. This, apparently, in chefy terms, is called “macerating” (new use of the word to me!) and is very on trend, sort of like “foam” was a couple of years ago! All it does basically is intensify the flavour of certain fruits but it makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Anyway, having ponced around macerating stuff you make a batter and it’s a really runny batter.

First you need to make a buerre noisette, which is basically butter melted and cooked until it turns brownish and develops a sort of nutty flavour. It’s used a lot in French cookery and if you don’t want to do it just melt some butter and use it normally. If you want to go the whole hog you have to melt your butter slowly and then swirl it around over the heat until it goes pale brown, cook it too much at too high a heat and it burns and turns bitter and vile and so erring on the side of caution is probably best. Once your butter is vaguely brownish put it to one side.

Now whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence together. Add a large heaped tablespoon of flour, keep whisking and slowly add the milk and cream. Continue whisking and pour in the melted butter. Now add the cherries and any liquid in the bowl. You should have a pink and very runny batter.

Pour the whole lot into a greased and sugared tin or dish and bake in a medium oven for 35 minutes or until the whole thing is slightly domed and a knife poked in comes out clean.

Allow to cool a little, scatter with sugar and serve warm with cream.

Really sick of cherries now!