My fleeting love affairs with fruits and vegetables are well known. I proclaim loudly that this here season is the best season ever, over and again, hyperbole be damned.
Red fruit season has arrived in Ontario, to my loud acclaim. First with tiny gem strawberries… then raspberries… then sweet cherries as big as walnuts… and now sour cherries. Soon we’ll have plums and blackberries and currants. It’s a good time of year.
When red fruit arrives, my reluctant inner baker comes forth to take advantage of this abundance. Below are two gorgeous, flexible recipes for whatever fruits you have on hand — swap in 1:1 whatever tart-sweet fruit you fancy and prepare to have your creations devoured.
Sour cherry and vanilla bean buttermilk cake with brown butter crumble
Makes one 9×9-inch square cake, about 2 inches high. Cooking time: 1 hour.
Sour cherries (also labeled as Montmorency cherries) are my kryptonite: in galettes, tarts, milkshakes, cakes, sauces, jams… they’re the perfect foil of sour and sweet, like nature’s sour patch kid.
I love sour cherries most in a tender buttermilk-based cake that comes together in a snap. I’ve made this recipe through the years, riffing on a classic Lottie + Doof recipe, who riffed on a Martha Stewart recipe. It’s equally fantastic with red currants, plums or similarly piquant fruit that can stand up to its sweet batter and crumble topping.
For the crumble
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 c allpurpose flour
- 1/4c granulated sugar
- 1/4c packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp fine kosher/sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
For the batter
- 1.5 c allpurpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp fine kosher/sea salt
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp, ~100g) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 c granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, large
- 1 tsp vanilla extract, or scraped insides of 1 bean
- 1/4 c buttermilk
- 2 c sour cherries, pitted (or other sour fruit: rhubarb, red currants, diced plums)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the crumble: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine into a sand-like crumble. Reserve to side.
Make the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Incorporate eggs and vanilla. Incorporate flour mixture and buttermilk, in alternate additions, scraping down sides of the bowl as you go. The batter will be paste like and smooth.
Assemble the cake: Spread batter into a parchment-lined 9×9-inch square pan. Top evenly with cherries. Top evenly with reserved crumble mixture.
Bake the cake: On the middle rack, for about 1 hour, until a pick inserted in the cake’s middle comes out clean. Check the cake after 45 minutes, as ovens vary.
Cool for at least 30 minutes, turn out, slice and serve. This keeps well in the fridge, tightly wrapped in saran.
Herbed Fruit Galettes
Makes two 10-inch galettes. Cooking time: 30 minutes.
Galettes are my answer to pie. I don’t like making pies — fussy, unforgiving and less visually impressive than the simple galette (or crostata, if you’re in Italy). This galette recipe riffs on a brilliant Smitten Kitchen creation, substituting sour cream for Deb’s ricotta and adding lemon zest in the tart dough, and intensifying the fruits with fresh herbs. A slice is the perfect vehicle — alongside lots of fresh vanilla ice cream — for consuming as much summer fruit as possible in one bite.
For these galettes, I opted for cherry/rosemary and blackberry/blueberry/tarragon fillings. Here are a few solid fruit/herb pairings:
- blackberry + tarragon
- black cherry + rosemary
- strawberry + basil
- plum + thyme
For the tart dough
- 2.5 c allpurpose flour
- 1 tsp fine kosher/sea salt
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
- 1/2 c sour cream
- 4 Tbsp ice-cold water
For the filling
- 4 c fruit of your choice (or, 2 cups each of different fruits for each tart)
- 1 Tbsp herb of your choice, finely chopped
- 8 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 4 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the glaze
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water
- lashings of turbinado sugar, for a crunchy crust
Make dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest. With your fingers, incorporate the butter until the mixture looks sandy. Combine sour cream and 3 Tbsp cold water and add to the flour mixture. Stir to incorporate and knead until a rough ball (don’t overwork the dough). Split into two equal portions, flatten into discs and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least one hour, but ideally overnight.
Make filling: Combine all filling ingredients and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. This will give the cornstarch time to do its thing.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Assemble galette: On a large floured surface, roll the dough balls into two round-ish shapes. They will be about 15 inches in diameter. Transfer each round to its parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon galette filling into centre of each round, leaving about 3 inches of border. Fold up the corners into a rough shape, pinching the folds lightly to ensure everything is sealed.
Glaze the galette: Whisk egg yolk with water. Brush over crust. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar.
Bake the galette: On the middle rack, for about 30 minutes, or until beautifully golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes, slice and serve.
This keeps on the counter for a couple days in a container, but the crust will soften slightly. You can reheat the tart in a 200 degree F oven for 15 minutes to re-crisp without compromising the fruit.