When I get a chance to eat as many cherries as I want, I’ll eat kilos of them.
I don’t often get a chance. Last time was when I was sixteen and spent the first week of my summer vacation working in a cherry orchard, picking cherries from huge standard cherry trees, balancing on a dangerously positioned ladder. I apparently was not bothered by heights then. Me and a friend decided that the daily commute was not worth the time and camped in the orchard. We ate cherries for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner. Also some in between. We had a hint of stomachache almost all the time, but my craving for cherries was, for once, satisfied. I also learned that a cherry orchard is the best place to camp in early summer.
My children love cherries every bit as much as I do and I would plant a tree tomorrow,were I not all too sure that I’d just be feeding the local population of blackbirds. Only yesterday one of my students told me that she has an amply producing cherry tree in her garden, but never ever tasted a cherry – the birds always beat her.
And so I buy cherries at the market, never enough of them. Mostly we eat them as they are, but sometimes we make a cake. It is a Czech recipe and in Czech the cake is called “bublanina” – which I somewhat whimsically translate as “bubble cake”. I imagine that the cherries are kind of like bubbles in the batter. Anyway, the beauty of the cake is in its simplicity: simplicity of taste that is just the right cushion for the bright red juicy cherries, and simplicity of preparation – one bowl and just a couple of ingredients. The cake is also wonderful with sour cherries, if you happen to find them.
Cherry bubble cake
Note on pitting the cherries: you don’t have to pit them. The pits even impart more flavor to the cake. But, if you plan to give the cake to young children or fear biting into a very hard pit, then do. Or get your daughter and her friend to pit them, like I did. They almost argued about whose turn it was…
Also: don’t have a cherry-pitter? Make your own!
150 to 200 g (¾ to 1 cup) sugar (depending on the sweetness of the cherries and your preference)
1tsp vanilla extract
250 ml (1 cup) cream
275 g (2 cups) unbleached flour
1 tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
500g (1 pound) cherries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius ( 355 Fahrenheit).
Butter and flour an ovenproof dish of roughly 20 x 30 x 5 cm.
Pit the cherries (or not – see above).
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Sift the flour together with the baking powder, then add to the batter, alternating between flour mixture and cream. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Evenly distribute the cherries over the batter. Bake until the top is golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean – about 40 minutes. Dust with icing sugar.