Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cherry Pudding Cake

Each summer I buy at least a bag or two of cherries. I eat half fresh and then the other half in some sort of baked good, most times this cherry pudding cake. Cherries are a pain in the butt to pit and pricey to boot so that summer indulgence happens only about once before I remember that I want to buy some more and then the season is over. Last year I skipped the tradition since the crazy upswing in food prices had them at around $14 a pound. Wow I just about fainted in the produce section, then proceeded to giggle and complain out loud about the prices. Yes, I'm defintely that person in the produce section.

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I know, I know I should just buy a cherry pitter and be done with the issue. Instead I argue with myself about paying $13 for a unitasker and set my ultimatum. If I buy cherries a second time during the season I'll buy the cherry pitter. Since that hasn't happened I stand pitting cherries manually much slower than my kids can consume them. At first I would halve the cherry and scoop out the pit with my thumbnail. Ouch, painful and of course that left the telltale red stained hands which made for interesting checkout conversation at the grocery store.

Knowing that I couldn't be the only person who refused to give in to the man and buy a cherry pitter I turned to my fellow wierdos, umm inovators on the web. A few minutes on google and tada! My fancy schmancy cherry pitter - a snapped in half bamboo skewer. Just push the blunt end through the stem end of the cherry all the way through. About 95% of the times the pit pops right out and the other 5% I finish the job with another dig. And I didn't have to get three kids dressed to go spend fifty bucks in the guise of buying a $13 cherry pitter at Bed Bath and Beyond.

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Back to the issue at hand. The cherry pudding cake. Since the cherries I buy are sweet cherries from the northwest I was glad to have found this recipe on one of my many late light searches. You're probably familiar with chocolate pudding cake, a thick batter layered with brown sugar and topped with boiling water that bakes up as a dense, fudgy cake with built in hot fudge sauce on the bottom. This one has the cherries baking up in a syrupy sauce with the golden brown cake baking on top. I will warn you, the original recipe has tons of sugar. I'm talking teeth achingly sweet. In fact, last year I forgot to update my recipe notes with "reduce sugar by half" and again baked up the original. I'm not really sugar averse but in this recipe it's just not necessary. I definitely want to try this again with the reduced sugar.

Cherry Pudding Cake
adapted from Chow Times

I double the recipe and bake it up in a 9x13x2" pyrex pan. The quantities below are already doubled to fit this pan.

6 cups sweet cherries, pitted
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar, divided in half - really I would reduce this in half next time, so 1 1/2 cups of sugar total, then divided in half
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups boiling water

First preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then grease the pan.

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Ouch, my eyes I'm blind! See what happens when you don't pay attention to the lighting? Sorry. Dump in the pitted cherries. In the original version, the cherries were halved but with my fancy schmancy cherry pitter I just left them whole.


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In a separate bowl mix 3/4 cups of sugar, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir to combine the dry ingredients.

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I add my vanilla to the milk just because I can't get enough of how it smells. Oddly enough I don't like vanilla scented anything but in baked goods, ahhh bliss.

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Add the melted butter and milk/vanilla mixture to the dry ingredients.

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Stir until the batter is smooth but don't beat the heck out of it. Otherwise you'll have a tough cake. Tough cake is not good.

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Spread that delicious looking batter on top of the naked cherries. Resist the temptation to eat the batter instead of spreading it on the fruit.

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Now, boil up your water. I just nuke mine for a few minutes.

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Mix the remaining half of the sugar with the cornstarch.

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Sprinkle this mix over the cake batter. I'll admit that at this point was when I thought, "oh man, that's a lot of sugar" but I pressed on. You, my friend, will learn from my mistakes.

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Pour on the boiling water. Trust me.

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden, bubbly and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the came portion comes out clean.

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Mmmm, the sugar makes a sparkly crust on top of the cake.

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The cake is crusty yet sweet and vanilla scented, while the cherries are tender and fragrant. Mine could have gone a little more in the oven but it was still pretty darn tastey. I served it with vanilla ice cream but really, that's gilding the lily. Mr. Maricucu said he really enjoyed the cake and the cherry sauce but not the cherries. The boys agreed. Wonder why I only make this once a year?

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2 comments:

Margaret said...

how long would you bake it if you did a 8x8? I have 3 cups of cherries... :)

Marielle said...

For the 8x8 I would let it bake for 45 minutes and just test the middle with a toothpick around that time. I think mine needed longer because I doubled the recipe.

Hope you enjoy it!