Clay Pot Baking: Bruny Island Cherries.
Bruny Island’s 312 acre Lennonville Estate at Barnes Bay boasts one of the best commercial cherry orchards in Australia exporting its produce around the world, especially at a time when these little devils are unavailable in the northern hemisphere, thus ensuring a high return.Back in 2008 Lennonville’s Black Devil cherries……….. ………..were selling for the equivalent of $80 Australian dollars in Paris during January. As well as Black Devils, Lennonville grows Lapin, Van, Regina, Sweetheart, Sweet Georgia, Simone, Kordia and Sylvia varieties and also supplies other out-of-season markets that includes the United States, Norway, Russia, Holland, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain and Italy.
Jon Grunseth, an ex-Republican politician from Minnesota, purchased Lennonville in 1997 and immediately planted the first 2,300 cherry trees. The orchard now includes some 15,500 trees spread over four separate orchards……..……..all of which is under kilometres of protective netting. The orchards look pretty spectacular during October when the trees are in flower………………..with the fruit starting to develop by early December.However , the window of opportunity for the locals to get hold of some of these delicious orbs is limited as harvesting starts just before Christmas and finishes around Australia Day (26th January). But when we do get our hands on them, and can resist eating them straight away, then Bruny Island cherries are turned into a number of guises. From the cherry jam bought at the Lennonville kiosk near Roberts Point……..………..(delicious with wood oven baked bread) to the spiced cherries in pinot noir from the Bruny Island Cheese Company…………..………..along with Ross O’Meara’s stout mustard from his own Bruny range, Bruny Island Food.In this instance, Ross’s stout mustard and the Cheese Co’s spiced cherries were served with one of Dave Roberts home made sausage rolls on a Brunyfire slip decorated, earthenware plate. Better still, this season’s fresh cherries were used for a couple of traditional recipes. A Bakewell pudding and a Cherry Cobbler or Buckle.
A Bakewell pudding, (so named after the small market town in Derbyshire in the UK – John’s home county) is a jam pastry with an egg and ground almond enriched filling on top of a puff pastry base. It is not to be confused with a Bakewell Tart (both pudding and tart claim to be the original dish), which is a completely different product made with shortcrust pastry, an almond topping and a sponge and jam filling.
As usual, the wood oven was fired up till the roof of the oven bricks were cleared of soot and the coals shoved to the back of the oven – a brick baffle between the baking and the coals has been employed in baking lately as this just helps keep stuff from burning.
For the Bakewll pudding, store bought puff pastry was laid out in one of Brunyfire’s well buttered Pearson’s flan dishes – the pastry was then pricked all over with a fork and lined with baking paper loaded down with beans and blind baked till the pastry was golden.Once cooked, the paper and beans were removed and the pastry cooked for a further 5 minutes. A jar of cherry jam was then spooned out onto the pastry base and topped with the following:
Cream 150 grams of butter with 150 grams of caster sugar until pale in color, then slowly add in 3 beaten eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, a little at a time. Gently fold in 150 grams of ground almonds, the zest of a medium lemon and 2 teaspoons of almond extract.Pour this mixture onto the pastry case and bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven, sprinkle on the flaked almonds and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until golden and set. Sprinkle with icing sugar whilst still warm and serve.A Cobbler, on the other hand, refers to an American deep-dish fruit dessert or pie with a thick crust and a fruit filling. The earliest meaning of the word ‘cobbler’ refers to a maker and mender of shoes, but took on a semantic slang version that came to mean something clumsily put together. The early American settlers were good at ‘cobbling’ things together as a matter of necessity – not unlike the tradition of the Aussie bush colonial who had to ‘make do and mend’ – the original cobbler recipes in this instance came from the traditional English pies and pudding recipes that were brought to the new country. These would have had to have been altered to suit the cooking conditions (often on an open fire in a dutch oven) and to the produce available.
Using fresh pitted cherries……..………a deep (Pearsons) pie dish, was preheated in the wood oven with 1/2 cup of butter, till melted. Make a batter from 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar and a teaspoon of baking powder – mix in 1 cup of milk till well blended. Toss in a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and the seeds of a vanilla pod, and then pour the batter into the pie dish. Carefully distribute 2 cups of pitted cherries onto the batter – don’t stir this.Cook for about 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly………… …………and serve………