Cherries have been plentiful this season, and prices continue to drop while the natural sweetness of the fruit rises.
The following recipe is a tradition in the Hesse, Baden and Swabia areas of Germany. There it is called Kirschenmichel
. As related in the definitive "The Cuisines of Germany," which first appeared in 1980: "Cherry cobbler was a particular favorite with potato or chervil soup on Saturday for lunch. Nowadays, it is frequently served in restaurants with a dollop of whipped cream on top."
This recipe is relatively easy to put together, but your hands will get dyed dark red from pitting fresh cherries. I don't have a fancy pitter, but the work went quickly after the first dozen or so.
The batter is strange looking, because of the milk-soaked bread that breaks down into crumbs as you stir. But the results are worth it. The dish, as much a clafouti or bread pudding as it is a cobbler, is eggy rich in addition to bursting with fresh fruit flavor.
Cherry Cobbler, or Kirschenmichel
1 tablespoon bread crumbs
9 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar (or more, if the cherries are sour)
6 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons kirschwasser (cherry liqueur) (see Note)
6 stale dinner rolls, sliced, or 6 thick slices white bread, dried in the oven
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds cherries (sweet or sour, fresh or out of a jar), pitted and drained
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take a round springform or a 1 1/2-quart soufflé pan, grease generously with butter, and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Stir the butter and sugar until frothy; blend in the egg yolks, one at a time, until you have a smooth batter. Add the kirsch.
Soak the roll slices in milk, and then stir these into the batter. Wash and drain the cherries thoroughly, then mix them into the dough. Add a little salt to the egg whites, and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into the dough.
Spread the dough in the pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked at the center to the point where an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The Kirschenmichel tastes best when still warm from the oven, but takes to the freezer very well and still tastes quite good when reheated.
Note: You may also want to add a 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in addition to the kirschwasser.
Makes 8-12 servings.
From "The Cuisines of Germany" by Horst Scharfenberg