Friday, October 23, 2009

Fresh Cherry Crisp (with spent grain topping)

There's almost nothing better than fresh cherries in the summer. Matt and I got used to having plenty of sour baking cherries around since our old apartment in Logan Square had seven huge trees in the yard. Even though we planted a cherry tree at our new house, it has yet to produce more than a handful of cherries. Luckily, we live a close drive from a number of cherry orchards in Michigan.

So in July we made a road to trip to central Michigan to pick cherries. Our original idea was to make a cherry stout. However, after a trip to Bells, we decided against brewing the beer. (For me the only fruit beers worth drinking are the New Glarus Cherry and Raspberry ales and Dogfish Head Aprihop on tap.) Since we had made the trip though, we still decided to pick cherries.

The orchard we went to had so many ripe trees that there was an 11 lb. minimum for picking. Now, if you're brewing, that's not too many. But for baking...well, let's just say that I have a freezer full of cherries. (See photo. Yes, they had a pitting machine! It's truly an amazing thing.) Time for baking!

I've made this crisp many times over the years, but I think this alteration for the grains was my best yet. As with any spent grain recipe, use only DRY grains. (Here is my method for drying spent grains.)

Fresh Cherry Crisp (w/ spent grain topping)
4 c. pitted sour cherries*
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 T. flour

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. spent grains
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, and 4 T. flour. Pour into 9x13 baking pan.

In medium bowl, combine crisp ingredients and cut in butter and shortening. (Use a pastry blender.) Blend until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over cherries.

Bake for 45-50 min, or until golden.

*No need to drain the cherries. The juice is delicious. If you have a lot, just add more flour to thicken the mixture.

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