I totally cheated in this recipe, as I used cherries from a can (gasp!). My reasoning was that if I have nice cherries, I would want to eat them, and not put in a cake. Little did I know that this is a cake that really deserves nice cherries. Do not get me wrong, the cake still tasted brilliantly (boyfriend approved), even with the canned cherries, but I think I will give it another try with fresh cherries while they are still in season.
The recipe is from a book, what I consider THE book on pastry, Michel Roux’s aptly named Pastry. I will write out the recipe here in broad strokes, when using a KitchenAid, but drop me a note in the comments if you’d like more detailed instructions, or instructions for a preparation that does not include a machine.
Compared to the original recipe, I made the full amount of the pastry and a double amount of the filling, as I had a 20 cm pan instead of an 18 cm pan. I used the extra filling and pastry to make two more small tarts (I probably could have stretched it to three).
250 g plain flour
150 g butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
1 tsp fine salt
pinch of caster sugar
1 tbsp cold milk
80 g plain flour
80 g butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tbsp kirsch
60 g caster sugar
150 ml cold milk
1 vanilla pod seeds
450 g cherries
icing sugar, to dust
1. For the pate brisee, combine butter, flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a KitchenAid equipped with the paddle attachment. Start the machine on medium speed and continue mixing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and milk and mix only until the mixture comes together. Turn the pastry on a working surface and knead for a few times, so that the mixture comes together. Line the 20 cm pastry pan and a few extra small ones and put in the fridge to chill for at least 30 min.
2. Preheat the oven 170 C. Prick the base of the pastry case. Blind bake the pastry: first, line the pastry with baking paper and add baking beans; second, put it in the oven for 15 minutes; third, remove the beans and the paper, turn the oven up to 180 C, and fourth, bake the pastry for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
3. While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling. Drain the cherries (or, in future iterations, remove the piths) and macerate them with the kirsch. In a separate bowl, break the eggs and add the flour. Mix using a whisk, without overworking. Add the melted butter, then gradually work in the caster sugar, milk, and maceration liquid. Add the vanilla seeds and mix.
4. When the pastry is baked, raise the oven temperature to 200 C. Spread the cherries evenly in the pastry case, then pour the filling until it comes just up to the rim. Bake for about 25 min, until the surface is light brown.
5. Transfer to a serving plate, dust with icing sugar, and serve warm. But if you serve it cold, it will still be yummy.