Monday, July 25, 2011

The Essence of July

When I was growing up, we had a cherry tree in our backyard. I think it was accidentally planted there.  It clearly did not belong.

It sat by itself, overshadowed by a gigantic mulberry tree. 

This cherry tree looked like it belonged as an illustration in a Shel Silverstein compendium. It was a sad little tree. It was also not what you'd call prolific, maybe because it was depressed. I don't know. At best, it would produce two, maybe three cherries each summer. Obviously, I would climb the tree and eat them. I wasn't a rough and tumble kid, but when you are as short as I am, you develop pretty good climbing skills. I happily scaled that tree each summer to command my miniature harvest.

Now, of course, I just walk down the hill to Whole Foods (although to be fair, I do scale a rather steep hill on the way home). Or, if I'm really lucky, the harvest gets delivered directly to my door via the farm box. No need to climb a tree.

I love this recipe because it takes such wonderful advantage of the cherries that always remind me of the lushest, sunniest part of summer. (Well, the lushest, sunniest part if you don't live in San Francisco.)

At this point I am going to have to provide you with some sexy glamour shots.

So pretty on my stripy dishtowel!

Brown Sugar Cherry Cakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 cakes


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
60 cherries (about 11 ounces), pitted

Just buy a cherry pitter. You'll thank me.
I have heard of some MacGyver trick where you can do this with a paperclip. But seriously, just buy a pitter. It pits olives, too, making it multfunctional, which I prefer if at all possible because otherwise you end up with one tool for each job and there's no more room in the drawer. Not that I have that problem.
Cherried up and ready for the oven! I actually cut the cherries in half because I couldn't figure out how five whole cherries could fit in each muffin cup. 
Ok, at this point I am a little bit freaking out. These things look like they are going to spill all over my oven. Fingers crossed...
Unfortunately, the cakes maybe could have used a little more butter in the muffin tin. They kind of broke apart. I wouldn't say the wheels fully came off here, but we definitely got a flat. Next time I'm using cupcake liners.

Ah well, they still tasted great.

That's what counts, right?

I didn't serve mine with vanilla ice cream, but I would strongly suggest that's how you serve them. Or, if you want to be fancy about it, you could try ginger ice cream. Haagen-Dazs makes a good one.

In other good news, I'm almost caught up on the blog backlog! Hooray!
Just a few more posts and I'll be back to posting the near-present rather than the far-past.

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