The weather is so changeable nowadays. Just when I packed away the winter clothes and hopefully packed my sunglasses in my handbag, this chill came from out of nowhere. I was walking down the road on a particularly grey miserable drizzly day when I spotted a crate of sour cherries. They were a bright, shiny race car red and I could not stop staring at them. I scrolled through the rolodex of recipes in my head thinking what I could make and I thought back to two summers ago to my friend Chiara’s birthday. Her aunt made a beautiful cherry pie for her birthday.
I raced home and stuffed the brown paper bag full of cherries into the already overstuffed fridge full of other orphaned food I adopted. The next morning, attempting to get to some milk, the bag fell out at my feet and I immediately got to work pitting them. I have for years now been meaning to get a cherry pitter but as my kitchen is full to brim with gadgets, I keep putting it off. So I used a hair pin and vowed this was the year I would buy one (and with cherry stained hands I finally ordered one online). I quickly made jam with the cherries and let them set overnight.
In the morning I made my pastry, let it firm up in the refrigerator and then after lunch, my son and I rolled out the pastry and filled the tart tin with pastry and cherry jam. The dough felt a bit softer than usual so we crossed our fingers and waited. It was beautiful.
Torta Colonne (cherry tart/pie) – Puglia
If you are short on time or out of cherry season, just use store bought sour cherry jam. For illustrated step-by-step instructions, click here.
1 kilo cherries, rinsed
500 grams sugar
1 lemon, juiced
170 grams flour
180 grams sugar
8 grams cocoa powder
6 grams ground cinnamon
170 grams almonds, freshly ground
210 grams butter, room temperature
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 egg yolk
For illustrated step-by-step instructions, click here. Remove the stems and seeds of the cherries. Add to a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and cook over medium heat. When the cherries are soft and the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high. Cook until the jam has reached the setting point. Test this by placing a small plate in the freezer. Spoon the jam on the plate and return the plate to the refrigerator for 2 minutes. Run your finger through the jam and see if it stays separate or runs back together. If it gels and stays separate, it is ready. Let it cool or seal it in sterilised jars.
Add the sugar, flour, almonds, cocoa and cinnamon to a mixing bowl. Add in the butter, egg, cherry liqueur and vanilla until well combined being careful not to over mix the dough. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Heat the oven to 175C. Grease a tart pan. Place the pastry on a floured sheet of parchment paper and flour the top and a rolling pin. Beat the pastry down with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the pastry to slightly larger than the tart pan. Invert the parchment paper onto the tart pan and peel away the parchment paper. Push the pastry into the tart pan, particularly in the corners so the pastry lining the sides doesn’t slump down as it bakes. Cut any excess pastry off the top. Wrap the remaining pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator. Poke the crust with a fork all over and place the tart pan in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator and spread the cherry jam inside. Roll the remaining pastry out and slice into strips to lay across the tart. Cut off the excess pastry. Brush the top of the pastry with the remaining egg yolk. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Interested in other cherry recipes? Try seared duck breast with cherry sauce.
I am off to Puglia tomorrow for a cousin’s wedding and hopefully more inspiration to share with you all.