I don't own a cherry pitter. My kitchen drawers are bursting with stuff, but I don't own a cherry pitter. The drawers, though organized pretty well, are so full that, randomly, one of the drawers will no longer open because a tool got propped upright in the drawer. I end up frustrated for 10 or so minutes trying desperately to dislodge the tool with spatulas, forks, tongs... It drives me insane, but I will not part with a single item from those drawers.
I do have 3 microplane graters of various sizes, but I don't own a cherry pitter. Is it because I love cheese more than I love cherries? Not likely, but I guess in my kitchen, cheese is a constant, while cherries only come through here a handful of times a year.
I usually don't bake with cherries, so, most of the time, I just don't need a cherry pitter, but then when I do, I can see how handy it would be to have that tool. I'd love this cherry pitter, but for now, I do the pitting by hand, with a serrated knife (to slice each cherry in half), and my fingers (to pry out the pit). It takes longer, my fingers turn purply-pink in the process, but that's okay. If I were to make cherry preserves, or a cherry pie, I might think otherwise, but for a handful or two of cherries, I stick to my trusty knife.
I came across this cherry focaccia recipe in the July issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. I was pretty stoked because I had been thinking about making a sweet focaccia since the fall season, but never got around to baking one.
Within days of seeing the recipe in the magazine, I tried it out. I had never made a focaccia, and I hardly ever have the opportunity to eat them, really. The focaccia dough is sticky. Martha makes sure to point this out. When I plopped the dough onto my floured counter to give it a couple folds (as instructed), it was a sticky puddle more than a bread dough. I was concerned.
After baking, I ended up with a light and airy focaccia, with just a slight chew to it. I loved the texture of it, and couldn't get enough of the crispy crust (I baked the focaccia on a preheated baking sheet to crisp up the bottom. I think this is key to the crispy bottom of this bread). The combination of the sweet cherries and apricot slices with the woodsy, herbal flavor of the rosemary, and the aromatic olive oil is out of this world. Truly a great combination. I would definitely make this again. My only issue was that it stuck to the pan a little more than I would have liked. Next time, I'd grease the pan first, then line it with parchment before adding the oil called for in the recipe, to get rid of some of the panic of frantically trying to unstick it from the pan.
Here's my recipe, adapted from page 149 of the July 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. I'll be submitting this to Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for her weekly Magazine Monday round-up, along with my strawberry rhubarb crumble muffins from earlier this week.
Cherry and apricot focaccia with rosemary
Makes one 8x8-inch bread
- 340 grams bread flour
- 350 mL warm water (~105–110°F)
- 1/3 tsp instant yeast
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 40 mL plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 handfuls sweet cherries, sliced in half and pitted
- 1–2 apricots apricots, pitted and sliced
- 1 tbsp plus more coarse sugar (I used a demerera sugar like this
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the flour, water, and yeast until combined. Remove the whisk attachment, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm place until tripled in volume and bubbly (~ 2 hours). I do this in my oven, with just the oven light on.
- Add the salt to the bowl. With the dough-hook attachment, mix the dough on low speed for 5 minutes. Raise the speed to medium, then mix for another 30 seconds. The dough will be loose and sticky. Just go with it.
- Generously flour your work surface, and scrape out the dough onto the surface with a dough scraper. With the dough scraper, fold the bottom edge of the dough up toward the center, brushing off excess flour from the surface. In the same way, fold the top edge toward the center. Fold the right, and then the left edge toward the center. Pat down gently. Flour a medium bowl, then swiftly scrape the dough into the bowl. Do this boldly, or you will end up with a mess of dough half in the bowl, half on the counter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it to double in a warm place (~1 hour).
- Turn out the dough on a floured surface, and repeat the folding process. Again, swiftly scrape the dough into a floured bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and leave it to double in a warm place (~1 hour).
- Preheat the oven to 450°F with a large baking sheet on the middle rack. Grease and line an 8x8-inch glass baking dish. Pour the 40 mL olive oil into the dish and spread it around so that it is fairly even.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared dish. with greased fingers, spread it out so that it fits into all the corners and is evenly spread. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes to rest (if the corners recede, push them back with greased fingers).
- Drizzle dough with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle the cherries over top, and scatter the apricots slices. Top with a generous sprinkling of coarse sugar (you can use more than 1 tspb, as you wish) and the rosemary.
- Place the baking dish on the preheated baking sheet in the oven, baking for 30 minutes, rotating at about 20 minutes if necessary. Immediately run a knife around the edges to unstick them if they are stuck, as soon as you remove the dish from the oven. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature, with an extra sprinkling of course sugar. It is best eaten the day it is made.