When I was a kid if you asked me what my favourite fruit was I would answer with zero hesitation: cherries.
Today the answer is a little more complicated. It varies from month to month. In June I think strawberries are the greatest thing ever. Once July comes around my attention is divided between raspberries and cherries. In August I eat Lac St Jean Blueberries by the handful.
I’d like to say that peaches are on my list, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find good peaches in the last few years. I remember eating Niagara peaches from those pretty little baskets when I was young that were incredibly sweet and bursting with flavour. Lately I’ve found them to hard and tasteless; so disappointing I would rarely buy them. This weekend I had a peach that brought me back to my childhood. It was exactly the flavours I remembered. These weren’t from Niagara; I don’t know where they were from (unless Costco is a country).
Fruit that good cannot be allowed to go to waste so I used a few in a crisp. I decided to add a few cherries to please my inner child as well.I flavoured the fruits with almond extract and added some almond meal to the crisp topping. If you can find oats that haven’t been in contact with wheat this dessert is a great gluten free treat.
Peach Cherry Crisp
- 3 large peaches, sliced
- 1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (or 1 tbsp amaretto)
- 2 cups oats
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- In a bowl toss the fruit with 1 tbsp sugar and the almond extract. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix the oats, almond meal, cinnamon and salt together. Add the butter, then using your fingers tips cut the butter into the oat mixture. It should clump together when combined
- Pour the fruit into a baking dish or pie plate, top with the oat mixture.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
- Serve warm or cold.
In my condo I had pretty basic equipment. When I first moved in my budget for appliances was .. well it was low. I bought the cheapest fridge and stove that I could find, and I waited a couple of years before buying a washer and dryer. Even though it was inexpensive, my stove always got the job done. Bread, cakes, roasts; you name it, it was tasty. My only regret was that it wasn’t self cleaning. I didn’t realize how horrible cleaning an oven is until I had to get in there and do it.
Now that I’m back at my parent’s house I have a brand new stove. It’s a lot fancier than what I’m used to. A friend of mine told me that some baked goods don’t work in gas stoves. He didn’t know what wouldn’t work, and I’m not sure I believe it, but I was curious. I decided I’d need to start baking a variety of things to see.
I originally planned a cherry clafoutis, but then I saw this recipe for Vanilla Cherry Bread Pudding. My mind immediately went back to the chocolate babka I made this easter. The first one imploded due to the weight of the chocolate. It failed as a loaf, but it tasted great so I had cut it into chunks and freeze for a bread pudding. Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding became my first baking experiment in my new oven.
I made a couple of changes to the recipe, the biggest being that I used chocolate babka instead of plain brioche. I also used Amaretto instead of port in the cherry compote. I left out the maple anise ice cream and simply used vanilla ice cream. The results were really, really good. Chocolate and cherry is one of my favourite flavour combinations. The only thing I’d change would be to add more cherry.
I know that most of you don’t have a chocolate babka sitting in the freezer waiting to become bread pudding, so I recommend using brioche and 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped.
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
- 45 sweet cherries, pitted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Amaretto
- 1 chocolate babka or 1 loaf brioche and 8 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Make the cherry compote: In a saucepan bring the Amaretto and sugar to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cherries and continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the cherries have softened and the liquid has thickened. Pour into a heat proof jar, then place the jar in an ice bath to cool the compote. Set aside.
- Make the bread pudding. In a large saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer. While the milk is heating, whisk eggs, 2/3 cup sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Once the milk is simmering, pour a small amount into the egg mixture while whisking. Then pour the rest of the milk, whisking constantly.
- Grease a 6 by inch baking dish with the butter. Place half of the babka pieces in the baking dish, cover with half the cherry compote, then the remaining babka. Pour the egg/milk over the bread. Let the milk soak for 5 minutes then bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream topped with the remaining cherry compote.