The possibilities for sour cherries are endless. They’re a natural for Lebanese recipes, fitting right in with our penchant for all things sour and tart (the terms are used interchangeably to describe this type of cherry). Last week’s line-up of cherry spanned everything from cocktails to steak and fish, and tart cherries are a beautiful thing when roasted or pickled (want to see? My new friend Marla Meredith from Family Fresh Cooking captured it ever so well here, including a shot of the bright cherry guru who taught us all there is to know about tart cherry nutrition, Wendy Bazilian).
Over at the Harbor Springs Farmer’s Market, Tim from Farmer White’s had beautiful wooden boxes filled with three types of cherries this week, and he had the patience of a saint as I pounced on him with all of my tart cherry questions to see what I could glean about his own harvest, and how a farmer likes to eat them. Cherry bounce, he said, that’s the ticket: a big jar filled with pitted tart cherries (he pits them by squeezing the daylights out of each one so that the pit shoots out), covered with vodka and a little sugar. Please and thank you, I’ll take three.
OK, you get the picture, tart cherries are not just about pie filling anymore (and never really were).
So what am I making for you with my tart cherries, my sour cherries, my new love?
I can’t escape the fact that cherry pie is still, after all the luscious cherry ways I’ve known and loved over the last couple of weeks, the cherry on top of my heart.
And because I can’t leave well enough alone, I’m transforming this pie into her equally beautiful rustic cousin, the galette. Galettes are free form tarts, so that the pastry just sort of hugs the fruit, requiring only a simple folding up of the pastry edges around a big mound of sugared cherries. A drop or two of rose water sings our cherry song so gloriously here.
The crust is an incredibly crisp, delicious thing that I shocked myself with, given how devoted I am to my mother’s crusts. Even she was wowed (This might be the best thing you’ve ever made, she said.). It’s a forgiving dough that includes a chunk of cream cheese for suppleness. Finish the galette as my mother does all pies, with a dusting of sugar when the pastry leaves the oven piping hot. Sanding or turbinado sugars are nice; we love the look of granulated.
As you stare down your tart cherries, maybe you’ll run off and make a stiff cherry bounce or top your ice cream with some brandied cherries from a jar you made that has steeped a few good months. Maybe you’ll hunt down the chef at Mission Table in Traverse City to find out, as I did, what exactly he put in his pickled cherries that made them so perfect atop lake trout?
But I suspect that we are cut from the same cloth, you and me, and before the week closes you’ll be making a cherry pie, a cherry tart, a cherry galette to soothe your cherry-loving soul.
Sour Cherry Galette with Cream Cheese Crust
Both the filling and the crust in this recipe are blue-ribbon worthy: sweet-tart cherries and a flaky, crisp, can’t-get-enough crust. The cream cheese dough is incredibly forgiving and is adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart. Galettes are all about free form, so feel free to make two smaller 6-inch or one large 12-inch galette.
2 ¼ cups flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1” pieces
6 oz. cream cheese, very cold, cut into 1” pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water
3 cups pitted tart cherries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch
1 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
Few drops of rose water
¼ cup heavy cream or whole milk, to wash the crust
To make the dough, in a food processor pulse the flour, salt, and sugar. With the processor turned off, add all of the butter and cream cheese. Pulse until large crumbs (½ -inch) and some smaller crumbs form. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing until the dough comes together in a ball, but many crumbs still remain. The less the dough is worked, the tenderer it will be. Turn the dough and crumbs out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough in a flat disc, or divide the dough in half and wrap each separately if making two smaller tarts, and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day.
Line a heavy sheet pan (18”x13”) with parchment paper. Place a rack in the middle position of the oven, and heat the oven to 375˚F.
In a medium bowl, combine the pitted cherries, tapioca, sugar, and rose water.
Lightly flour the work surface and rolling pin. If the dough is very cold and hard, let it rest for 15 minutes. Use plenty of pressure on the rolling pin to begin to soften and roll out the dough. Roll the dough in a 16-inch round (or a 12-inch round if making two smaller tarts) about 1/8-1/4 –inch thick, lifting it off of the work surface every few rolls and adding more flour to both the rolling pin and the work surface. Gently transfer the dough to the parchment-lined sheet pan.
Fill the center of the dough with the sugared cherries, spreading the cherries out. Fold the edges of the dough up around the cherries, moving in one direction around the tart as you fold. Brush the top of the dough with the cream or milk.
Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350˚F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes for a total bake time of 45-50 minutes, or until the cherries are bubbling and juicy. Remove the tart from the oven and cool briefly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Print this recipe here.