About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Sour Cherry Slice
I was chatting to a fellow blogger and asking if sour cherries would have been a viable substitute in a certain recipe and she replied that she felt sour cherries wouldn't have worked in her recipe and were best matched with chocolate.

Which got me thinking.

I completely understand matching sour cherries to chocolate. Two of my all time favourite cakes, sour cherry kugelhopf and the classic Black Forest cake both show off the wonderful marriage these two can make. For chocolate is such a bully really, pushing other less assertive ingredients to the background, that it needs a strong partner to pull it into line. But that's not all there is to sour cherries. Think of rhubarb for instance, which has about the same tartness. It is very often featured just on its own as the star ingredient and sour cherries are just as confident on their own and need just like rhubarb, a little sweetness added.

The reason I had asked about using sour cherries is that I had made for the first time a cherry clafoutis in which I used sweet cherries and was totally disappointed with its lack of cherry flavour, though I would say it was better cold than warm. I wondered then how it would have been if it contained sour cherries instead. The reason I was thinking this was that every year we go the a cherry orchard and buy many kilos of sour cherries for making various things, like sour cherry jam, cherry vodka and quite a few are simply bottled for cakes and desserts during the year.

Now the thing is every year we eat some fresh, to get an idea of how much flavour they have. Even though they are called sour cherries they are not sour like a lemon for instance, it would be fairer to say they are tart and something else is instantly obvious - the length and depth of flavour, its almost like essence of cherry. Some Europeans actually quite like to eat fresh sour cherries, but the majority of the crop will be preserved in some way. In fact it is European countries that lead world production of sour cherries and it would probably surprise you to learn that of the world-wide production of cherries, which is around three million tons, one third of that is dedicated to sour cherries.

Stephanie Alexander in her book the Cooks Companion goes on to say...

'Cherries are an ancient fruit and originated in south-eastern Europe and western Asia. There are still many cherry recipes that are closely linked to these areas, especially from Russia, Hungary, Turkey and Germany, the latter of which is home to the fabulous Black Forest cake. Kirsch and many other cherry liqueurs are also produced in central and eastern Europe. European cherry recipes are all intended for the sour cherry, which develops far greater complexity and depth of flavour than a sweet cherry when cooked. Inevitably, sweet cherries will have to be substituted most of the time.'

Well, perhaps it's not inevitable if you have a source for sour cherries, as even supermarkets carry jars of sour cherries these days, usually labeled as Morello cherries, which can be used in place of fresh cherries when they are no longer in season. If you like rhubarb you will certainly like this slice, which is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by the wonderful originator, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.


1 cup sugar
3 cups plain flour sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
250 g butter
5 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 litre jar sour cherries


5 egg whites
1 cup icing sugar
4 rounded tablespoons vanilla custard powder

In a large bowl mix flour and baking powder, cut butter into small pieces and rub into flour with fingertips, until flour looks like coarse sand. Add sugar, sour cream and egg yolks, and mix until dough forms, do not over mix. Divide dough into ¾ and ¼ pieces, wrap in plastic. Put ¾ piece in fridge and ¼ piece in freezer for at least a ½ hour. In a baking dish 38 cm x 26 cm place ¾ piece of dough and with your hands, push the dough to cover the bottom of the dish. Drain sour cherries and put them on the dough.

Whisk eggwhites until soft peaks form, then slowly whisk in the icing sugar, then the custard powder. Pour this mixture over the sour cherries and level. Take ¼ piece of dough and grate evenly over topping. Bake in 170 c oven for 50 minutes.

Just in an aside, the leftover juice from the jar of sour cherries makes a refreshing drink, more so with a shot of vodka, a cook's bonus if you like.

Labels: ,

  posted at 8:15 am

At 11:56 am, Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

Another thing I've never tasted! There do seem to be a lot of them lately. This sounds like it would taste fantastic. I wonder why I haven't seen these here, since cherries are a Utah crop? I'll have to check on that.

At 2:30 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I would be willing to swear that when I made cherry clafoutis that I used sour cherries. I made it out of the Time Life Cooking in France. I just looked up the recipe and it calls for sweet cherries.
My experiences with fresh cherries is from the summers we spent on Lake Michigan. I always wanted to be there when the cherries, asparagus and blue berries came in-the best ever.

At 3:11 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kalyn, everyone who tries it asks for the recipe. If you have a cherry crop there ought to be someone with sour cherries, but I recall in the early days here they were very hard to get hold of until we found an orchard that grew them.

Hi tanna, if I ever make cherry clafoutis again, I will be using sour cherries. No surprise with the book either, I have several cookbooks by French authors and not one of them says to use sour cherries.

At 11:59 am, Blogger Anh said...

Neil, I haven't used sour cherries a lot. But I did use the dried sour cherries (which cost a fortune!) once to make jam, and it is beautiful. Your recipe sounds good, too.

At 12:17 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi anh, I hear you, dried sour cherries do cost a bomb. I wonder how it would go if you found a jar of morellos and dried them out?

At 6:24 pm, Blogger Helene said...

I´m lucky to have a tree in my garden, so I´ll try your recipe later this summer. :)

At 5:08 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi helene, my sister-in-law has a tree but not enough for us yet, but the orchard we go to has outstanding fruit. I'm sure you will like it.

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