5 ways to cherish the cherry
Victoria’s cherry season lasts just 100 days over summer, so fans of the juicy stone fruit should get cracking.
Head to the hills north-east of Melbourne to pick your own bucket of cherries, or buy a box at your local fruit shop. Make sure you get enough to eat your fill and get some extras to make these gorgeous recipes from award-winning food blogger Liz Posmyk (right).
This year for the first time, the cherry experts from Wandin’s CherryHill Orchards are bringing their extra-large fruit to Chinatown at a pop-up shop until the season ends in mid-February. Find the shop in the food court of the Paramount Centre.
So get yourself a box of cherries and try these recipes from the always tasty Bizzy Lizzy.
1. Cold cherry soup
Liz’s mother made cold cherry soup in the Hungarian way, using pitted sour cherries.
“She would combine a couple of spoons of flour with the same of sour cream and sugar, and stir it until the mixture was free from lumps,” Lizzy explains. “Meanwhile she’d cook the cherries in sugar syrup until they were tender. Then, she would combine some of the cherry syrup liquid with the flour/sour cream mixture, stirring it through. And then she’d pour the flour mixture into the pot of cherries in syrup and cook it gently for a few minutes and chill it thoroughly before she served it. With my recipe, I’ve eliminated the flour and added a little cinnamon and some vanilla bean paste. I recommend that you grind the cinnamon fresh for the best flavour. Cold cherry soup is delicious as a mid afternoon treat on a hot summer’s day. It can also be served as a starter or a dessert.”
500g pitted fresh cherries
2 tbs caster sugar
1.5-2 cups water
½ tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tbs low fat sour cream or plain yoghurt
Combine the cherries, caster sugar, water, cinnamon and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cherries are tender. Remove the saucepan from the stovetop and allow the soup to cool. Then transfer it to a blender and pulse/process until smooth. Add the sour cream or yoghurt and pulse until mixed in. Chill thoroughly before serving. This recipe serves 4.
2. Cherry cake
125g European style unsalted butter, softened, chopped
1 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp finely chopped or grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
500g pitted cherries
Sprinkling of rice crumbs (or bread crumbs)
1 tbs vanilla sugar
Extra icing sugar for dusting
Cream the butter and half the sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest, and beat for several minutes until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar, until peaks form.
Add the flour and the baking powder to the creamed egg and butter mixture, and then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Spread evenly into a lined and greased 31 x 25cm lamington tray. Sprinkle rice crumbs over the pitted cherries (this will stop them from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Arrange the fruit evenly over the batter. Sprinkle with the extra vanilla sugar.
Bake in a moderately hot oven (190 degrees C) for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and cake springs back when gently touched. Allow to cool before turning out. Serve cut into squares, dusted with icing sugar. Store in an airtight container. Serves 10-12.
3. Choc-dipped cherries
Liz says this recipe needs plump fruit in perfect condition – exactly what you get at this time of year. You can de-stone the cherries if you like, however you will need to use a tool to remove the stone from the side, rather than top to bottom. If you choose to leave the stones in, the cherries will still taste lovely. Just make sure you advise your guests. Nothing worse than a cracked tooth.
500g cherries, washed and gently patted dry, stems intact
125g good quality dark chocolate
Melt the chocolate in Pyrex bowl or a double boiler over a saucepan of simmering water. Lay a sheet of baking paper onto a platter or tray. Holding the fruit by the stem, dip the cherries into the melted chocolate and allow the excess to drip back into the bowl. Place onto the prepared tray and pop into the refrigerator to set. Serve chilled with a suitable dessert wine. Will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.
4. Cherry preserves
2kg pitted cherries
1 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
Spread the pitted cherries into a non-stick pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Simmer over a low heat until the sugar dissolves and the cherries release their juice. Try not to overcook the cherries. Cook them until the fruit is tender, but still whole. Allow to cool. Ladle into airtight freezer safe containers and snap freeze. Defrost as you are ready to use.
5. Florentines a la Lizzy
2 cups cornflakes, gluten-free if preferred
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup flaked or slivered almonds
100g dried pitted cherries (or cranberries)
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
250g dark chocolate
Preheat your oven to 180C. Prepare a 1/2 cup muffin tray by placing large paper liners into the holes. Alternatively, place 15 paper liners onto a baking sheet. Combine the cornflakes, sultanas, almonds and cherries in a bowl and mix well.
Melt the butter and sugar in a small saucepan. (In one batch, I deliberately tried allowing the butter to caramelise slightly, for a yummy burnt butter taste. It was good). Add the melted butter/sugar mixture to the other ingredients and fold through, coating thoroughly. Spoon equal amounts into the paper liners. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over a saucepan of simmering water. Drizzle the chocolate over the Florentines in zig zag fashion. Refrigerate and serve chilled, in or out of the liners. Makes 15 or so. Will store well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.