I took a lovely weekend trip to the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea a couple of weekends ago. It was a relaxing escape from real life for a bit. While I had taken the direct route via freeway to get there, on my way back I took the scenic route up the winding coast. This allowed for two things that I love. First, the seaside scenery: cliffs dropping straight into the water, salty ocean mist, and beach. You need not give me two seconds at the beach before my shoes are off and my feet are in the sand. This action prompts my tactile memory, transporting me instantly to my youth growing up on the beaches of the Puget Sound. Though it was grey and not particularly warm that day, I of course still had to stop and put my feet in the sand.
The second opportunity the Highway 1 route along the ocean affords is a stop at one of my favorite vegetable stands just north of Castroville. I very much enjoy perusing fresh fruits and vegetables and thinking about their potential: the magical creations that can come of them. This particular trip, the bounty I walked away with included the makings for salsa, some pretty avocados, and a big bag of beautiful bing cherries.
Fast forward a few days, and I was the proud new owner of what I would consider my latest favorite fun kitchen device: a cherry pitter. It's like a little gun that you can use to propel the pit from the cherry (a surprisingly soothing action). Once I had a bowl of pitted cherries in front of me, the question was how to put them to use.
I knew I wanted them to be the star of some sort of baked-good production. I started scanning the cupboards to see what I might have on hand that would pair well. Polenta gave me pause...something about cherries and cornmeal seemed meant to be combined. A quick scan of the internet proved that I am not the first to have this thought.
The recipe I landed on is from one of my favorite food blogs: Smitten Kitchen. I followed the recipe exactly, so rather than repeat it here, I'll direct you to the source. I don't have a cast iron skillet that can go in the oven, so I baked the cake in my french oven. The high sides made the turn-it-upside-down step a little dangerous (I ended up with only one sloping edge - a pleasant surprise given the vigor with which I had to shake it to get the cake out of the pan - the rest of the cake looked pretty good). The resulting cake is like a dense, slightly sweet cornbread, topped with cherries that impart tangy, juicy goodness. The cake seems to call out to be enjoyed along with a big cup of coffee, perfect for brunch.
2 years ago: spinach and berries salad with curry dressing