EASIER THAN PIE
Perhaps they are my spirit fruit, as I was born right in the height of their sweetness. Or maybe it was that I was trained to be a cherry lover from the time I was little. Trying to escape the foggy Sunset summers, my mom would pack us into the car for out of the City excursions nearly every day. As we wound up country highways, or through Sonoma County, she would quickly veer off the road at the sight of a fruit stand. We’d buy a bag of fresh cherries and polish them off in one sitting and we had to swear to not tell my dad that she let us eat until our stomachs hurt.
I tend to eat cherries fresh and plain, nothing to fuss with their perfect flavor and texture. Then I read about this crazy, simple cherry pitting technique while I planned a dinner party one June. With such a short season, a cherry dessert was essential. So, I wrapped the fruit in pastry dough and it tasted like pure summer.
While roasting tends to be my go-to vegetable technique, galettes are their dessert counterpart. Forgiving, unfussy, rustic and buttery - all qualities I look for in a good dessert! The dough is basically pie dough and the key is to keep your butter cold, your water minimal and work the dough until it just comes together. It's almost counter-intuitive to anyone that's made a cake, but the butter should stay in chunks and your dough should be messy with flakes falling onto the counter top. With a quick chill in the fridge it'll come together just so.
Crazy-Easy Cherry Pitting Technique: Drink a beer. Or a sparkling water! Or find a glass bottle with a narrow top in your recycling. Place you cherry on top of the mouth of the bottle so it rests there. Carefully, take the narrow end of a chopstick and press it through the middle of the cherry, causing the pit to drop out the bottom and into the bottle. Grab another cherry and repeat!
From Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
2 cups of all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
12 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter cut into small chunks (I put cut pieces back in fridge while I get the rest of the ingredients together)
1/3 - 1/2 c. ice cold water, as needed
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, sturdy fork or your strong fingers. Cut until the butter is in pea-sized chunks, working quickly so the butter does not become very soft. Sprinkle ice water over the top by the tablespoon, mixing in quickly, until the dough just barely comes together into a ball. Place ball on piece of plastic wrap, pressing into a disk. Refrigerate at least 15 min, while prepping your filling. This dough also freezes well.
2 lbs. pitted cherries (the recipe recommended 3 but I prefer a higher dough to filling ratio)
3 Tbsp. sugar
zest of 1 lime (or lemon, or orange!)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 egg (for egg wash)
1/4 c. toasted pistachios to sprinkle on at the end (or almonds)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the cherries, 2 Tbsp. sugar and lime together. This is super adaptable and would be good with almond extract, vanilla bean, or a sweet liquor. The recipe recommends placing the fruit in a colander to drain for a bit, but I cooked it without straining. You could also add a little cornstarch here to firm up the juices.
Pull the dough out from the fridge, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a very rough "round" shape, about 1/4" thick. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place dough on parchment, and put fruit in the center, leaving an inch and a half of dough around the perimeter. Sprinkle fruit with remaining 1 Tbsp. of sugar and cut up butter, dotting the top of the fruit. Fold the dough over the fruit - it's ok if it overlaps, does not have a clean edge or is uneven. Whisk egg, and brush over dough.
Bake until golden, about 30 min. Sprinkle with pistachios and let cool. Serve with ice cream if you are the a la mode type.