Nothing screams Christmas like a big bowl of fresh, ripe cherries and we’ve had the most amazing harvest this year. They are so good to eat fresh, but if you have a glut and are looking for something to make, this recipe is a simple and tasty way to use them up. Tinned or frozen cherries can be used too but, as always, fresh is best. If you are using tinned or frozen, they need to be drained and then patted dry with paper towel or they will be too soggy and leach into the batter. This dessert looks really great served in individual pans, but the recipe below taken from Felicity Cloake’s ‘How to cook the perfect..’ column in The Guardian is for one large dish which serves 6. The biggest conundrum here is whether to pit your cherries. If you can be bothered you will enjoy the dish without the fear of cracking a tooth, but due to pure laziness I am happy to leave them in and deal with the consequences..
500g fresh cherries
75g caster sugar
3 tbsp kirsch or other brandy
20g butter, melted, plus extra to grease
2 tbsp demerara sugar
50g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
270ml whole milk
3 drops of almond essence (optional)
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Wash the cherries and remove the stalks. Put in a bowl and lightly crush, so the skins pop but the fruit retains its shape. Add 2 tbsp caster sugar and the kirsch, toss together, cover and leave to macerate for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6. Grease a baking dish just wide enough to hold the cherries in one layer, and add half the demerara sugar. Spin the dish round to coat the inside with demerara, then set aside.
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and the remaining caster sugar. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the milk and melted butter, until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the almond essence, if using, and the lemon zest, then tip in the cherries and their juices.
Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about half an hour, until just set but still a bit wobbly. Sprinkle with the remaining demerara sugar and serve warm, rather than hot.