From Scratch: Sweet harvest for sour cherry pudding
Last year at this time, there wasn't a single sour cherry to be found in York County. With two mid-20-degree days in April, the blossoms froze in bloom.
This year is another story.
Jane Lehman, the owner of Raab Fruit Farms, said the sour cherry crop is bountiful.
"It's like two years in one," she said. "Because the trees in our orchard are young and small, you can almost sit in a lawn chair and pick them."
I would call that easy pickins.
The sour cherry trees in my back yard also are heavily laden. I've already made a cherry pie and cherry jam in addition to freezing four quarts.
Though I like cherry pie, I find it a bit labor intensive. For a quick cherry fix, I prefer cherry pudding.
The name is a bit of a misnomer, as it is a moist cherry cake and not a pudding. Here in York County, it's usually eaten in a bowl with milk and sugar sprinkled on top, though it is just as good eaten out of hand.
I also make this recipe with peaches or blueberries when they are in season, but my favorite version is made with sour cherries.
The sweetness of the cake contrasts well with the slight tartness of the cherries.
Other than the time it takes to pit the cherries, the cake comes together quickly.
This cherry pudding recipe is from my grandmother. Her original instructions called for butter the size of a walnut. A friend sent me a recipe calling for butter the size of an egg.
After some tweaking, I arrived at the following recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.
To begin, assemble the following ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups pitted sour cherries
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and mix on low.
Drain any juice from the cherries and lay them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Lightly sprinkle the fruit with flour. This is so the cherries disperse throughout the cake and don't all sink to the bottom.
Gently fold the cherries into the cake mixture.
Pour into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan, using a spatula to smooth the batter out evenly.
Bake at 350 degrees about 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown on top.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section.