Getting to the party

AriCooks, cake, dessert, Summer, Tips and Tricks

We have a lot of summer birthdays in my family, which, in addition to the summer I spent running a little cake-making business from my kitchen, has taught me a bit about how to make birthday cakes (and frosting) in warmer temperatures, and how to create a lovely-looking cake in stages so that you, the cake-baker, arrives at party day relaxed and ready to enjoy.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume you are baking (really, building) a straightforward sheet or layer cake here. I think most of these guidelines would also be applicable to something like carrot cake, which is also often frosted, or even a genoise, which is soaked and then covered with ganache or glaze. Also, I am going to assume that if you’ve gotten this far, you know the basics of cake-baking and may even have a recipe in mind. If not, take a peek at these:
Weeknight Cake Making

Birthday Cake, Straight-Up

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake 

Photo from a million years ago

Photo from a million years ago

So, it’s July or August, or even a steamy early-September, and you have a cake to bake. I like to begin cake-building 3-4 days before the party, especially in the summer,and when there are other preparations that will take up time as well.

  1. The actual baking: After I have made my shopping list and arrived home with my ingredients (and checked to see that I have all the necessary staples– parchment paper, pan spray etc), I bake the cake/cake layers. If it’s hot, this is best done in the early morning (after coffee!), or late evening. Preheating an oven and baking the cake for 30-40 minutes, really increases the temperature of the house, especially if you live in a smaller space. When the cake has cooled (in the pan for 5-10 min, then out of the pan completely) you should wrap it up really well with plastic wrap (layers should be wrapped individually) and freeze it until you are ready to frost it — ideally, the night before the party. Do not refrigerate it. If you have done this step just one day before the party, you can leave it out, wrapped well, but not if the cake has ANY fresh fruit or veggies in it (blueberries, carrots etc).

2. Making Frostings and fillings: Most icings, frostings, and fillings (ganache is not so easy to make ahead) can certainly be made ahead of time and refrigerated or even frozen. Most of them will need to be brought to room temp before spreading and something like buttercream will definitely need to be re-beaten before it can be spread. If you don’t mind doing that, then I do recommend making buttercream ahead of time because it is time-consuming and you want to feel fresh and relaxed for the fun part- the decorating. If you are planning an outdoor party, where the cake may be sitting in the heat for a bit, it is HIGHLY recommended that you use at least part shortening or margarine in your buttercream. An all-butter buttercream is very tasty, but butter’s low melting point does not lend it to a stable frosting that will stand up to heat. You want to set yourself up for success after all this work, so unless your summer cake-eating is happening in air-conditioning, I recommend at least half shortening. You can use something like Earth Balance (supposedly healthier) or just a simple margarine.

3. Building your cake: The night before the party get your frosting at the right consistency and unwrap your frozen cake. Frosting a frozen cake has a great advantage: you may not need a crumb layer– that is to first frost your cake with a thin layer of frosting that some crumbs stick to and show-through, and then chill it and frost again with a second layer, thus hiding the crumbs. Frozen cakes tend not to shed as many crumbs, but obviously if your frosting is lily-white and your cake is chocolate, you may need a crumb layer regardless. When you have frosted the cake, and perhaps decorated with any piped frosting, cover the whole thing in some kind of cake-keeper until the day-of. Save any floral, fruit, or chocolate embellishments until right before the presentation, as they will not hold up well to overnight refrigerating.

4. The Day-Of: Complete any final touches on your cake in the hours before the party. Keep cake refrigerated until about half an hour before serving. Also, remember that certain fruit, like strawberries, can bleed color onto white frosting, so don’t leave those on the cake for too long before serving.

A little strawberry cake

AriCooks, cake, dessert

The thing about butter, is that it tastes really good.

butter softening on my counter, a very typical sight in my kitchen.

butter softening on the counter, a near-daily  sight in our kitchen.

Over the past couple of decades or more, the general attitude towards butter has been in tremendous flux, vacillating from treasured and essential staple, to the root of all heart-health evils.  In the 1980s butter was a bad word in many kitchens and restaurants, and in Jewish homes the issue was made even more complex by the Kashrut (the adherence to which dictates that Jews not mix milk and meat at the same meal, therefore preventing many a buttery desert from being served post-meat meal).

My own relationship was even further complicated by various eating doctrines I subscribed to throughout my teens, and early adulthood, but I am happy to say that along with the general changing attitude towards butter (though, I like to think of myself as being slightly ahead of the curve), I have now long-accepted that like most natural ingredients, butter is a wonderful thing that can and should be used in moderation, and with reverence to it’s unique properties as a tenderizer of baked goods, and taste-enhancer of …. just about everything.

This little strawberry cake that come to mind almost every time my husband buys too many off-season strawberries at a wholesale store, would not be the same without butter. As a matter of fact, most simple cakes, including buttermilk and upside-down, which have few ingredients, need butter to make them worth making and eating.


Simple Strawberry Cake

I’ll admit, I think this cake has a lot of sugar (and I often cut the amount down by a 1/4 or 1/3 of a cup). It’s also worth noting that I do not make this with summer, peak-season strawberries, as it would be a waste of their flavor (just eat them). This cake is for those less-than-perfect strawberries found in your market’s refrigerated section in winter-time. After trying them, you can decide how much sugar you need. 

1.5 cups spelt flour (you can use all purpose)

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 TBS softened butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg (I use an egg sub because of my daughter’s allergy: 1 TBS oil, 1 TBS water, 1 tsp bkg       powder, mixed)

1/2 cup milk (I use soy/rice/oat)

1 tsp vanilla

1.5 cups hulled, halved strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 (180 C?), butter an 8 inch square pan or a 9 inch pie dish, set aside.

Sift the flour and bkg powder, set aside.

With an electric mixer or a wooden spoon cream the butter and sugar well. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the milk, mix well. Fold in the dry ingredients and spread the (thick) batter into the baking pan– I use a small offset spatula to level it. Now press the strawberries into batter slightly, cut side down, arranging them evenly over the top of the cake.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.



The rest

AriCooks, cake, dessert, quick breads and tea cakes, Spring, Summer

Loquat (shesek) tree hangs over our balcony

It’s May in Jerusalem and nothing could be more delightful. The days are warm, the evenings are breezy, and our loquat tree is bursting with fruit. The old ladies that wander the shuk with their backyard-offerings are selling a variety of basil that lasts for weeks in a glass of water set out on our table (it even starts to root), and smells amazing. My fruit and vegetable guy had organic lettuce this week, grown by his teenage neighbor, and bright, sweet cherries, also grown without pesticides. I know that the heavy, sticky heat is imminent and I am enjoying every second of this season.


I’ve been making a pitcher of my favorite iced tea every few days, which is basically just a fruity tea mix with berries, apples and hibiscus, sometimes mixed with a little white or mild green tea, steeped in a litre of just-boiled water for a few minutes, cooled, chilled and served over ice. Sometimes I mix it with bought or homemade lemonade and sprigs of fresh mint and verbena.


And after our five week stay in Boston this winter reminded ever more how lucky I am to have access to cheap lemons (80 cents a piece at the markets in Boston!!) I have been also been using them in everything from salad dressing, to dips, to this lovely tea cake adapted from The New York Times Cookbook:

Simple Lemon Cake

1.5 cups flour – I used 50-50 white and whole wheat (you could also use part spelt)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 lb butter (~125 grams)

2 large eggs, at room temp

3/4 cup sugar

6 Tbs milk

2-3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice

2-3 Tbs lemon zest

tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F/180C, grease and flour a loaf pan (English cake pan)

Add a little of the lemon juice to the milk to curdle it.

Sift flours, baking soda, powder and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, and then beat in lemon zest and vanilla.

Alternately beat in flour mixture and liquids. Beginning with flour, then adding a bit of the milk and lemon juice etc, ending with flour. Do not overmix.

Spread batter into loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes on the center oven rack.

Happy Spring, listen to this if you haven’t yet (or even if you have).

Basbusa – Moroccan Semolina Cake

AriCooks, cake, Dairy Free, dessert, Jerusalem

Although the cafe may not be the hippest hang-out in town , I have to hand it to my boss, Linda. Fifteen years in business and we do a slamming lunch rush almost every single day. Holidays are completely crazy (I’m already getting nervous about Shavuot), and we make almost every single thing from scratch. When you work with the same folks every day, cranking out orders and baked goods, it is inevitable that everyone will get to know each other pretty well, and fairly quickly.

The chef, Mali, whom I work alongside each day, is a fast-working, savvy veteran of the hotel-kitchen industry who has been running the cafe’s kitchen for 7 years. She is a trained pastry chef (our main commonality) as well as a savory chef, with surprising patience for her staff, and little for anyone else. She is also Moroccan, an identity which she carries like a flag, making more than a few comments about Ashkenazim and their tiresome palates, customs and social skills. Like a lone crusader of truths, she dispenses Moroccan folk-wisdom (and a great deal of Mali-isms) throughout her day, both amusing and confusing the staff (mainly me). Although I take her worldview with a grain of salt, her recipes are no joke. This family recipe for semolina cake is just one example of the kind of  wisdom I am glad to take from her, and am excited to share with others.

Mali’s Moroccan Basbusa Cake

This cake is also called one-one-one cake because most of the ingredients are in 1-cup quantities, which makes this recipe very easy to cut in half. Basically, this cake is a separated sponge, with a simple syrup poured over it right after it is removed from the oven. Because its ingredients are so straightforward, I think you could play around with flavors if you wanted to. Perhaps add some citrus zest to the batter, or almond/orange blossom water. 

For the cake:

6 eggs, separated

1 cup oil (Mali uses canola, I used half canola, half olive oil)

1 cup orange juice

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided (I used less, see below)

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 cup semolina

1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat)

pinch of salt (my addition)

for the syrup:

the syrup is essential!

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Make the cake:

In a large bowl, mix the 6 yolks with the oil, juice and one cup of sugar (I used about 1/2 a cup, instead). Add the flour, coconut, semolina and a pinch of salt and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, whip the whites until foamy, then add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup) SLOWLY, whipping as you add, until the whites have reached soft peaks.

Fold the whites into the batter (careful not to over-mix, or you will deflate your whites) and pour the batter into a wide, shallow, greased pan (I used a glass 9 x 13 inch pan, coated with Pam spray).

Bake at 170°C/350°F until golden brown and firm/springy to the touch ~ 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil the sugar and water in a small pot for a few minutes.

When the cake comes out of the oven it may be very puffy, and almost higher than the pan. Very slowly and carefully pour the syrup over the entire cake, making sure it is getting distributed evenly.

Allow the cake to cool for a bit and the syrup to fully absorb before serving.


AriCooks, cake, Dairy Free, dessert, Fruit Pies, Summer, Upside-down cake

Italian prune plums, in a shuk near you

After spending eight hours at work making cakes and chocolate babkas — though not a bad way to spend a day — I came home tired and a little irritable yesterday evening. Somehow, the only remedy to my exhaustion-induced crankiness was to make plum kuchen (nerd alert). My usual excuse for buying large quantities of prune plums is Molly Wizenberg’s plum-ginger crumble, but after making two or three of those in the past couple of weeks, it was time to find another recipe that showcases the little oval beauties.

After Jeff and I spent a few minutes arguing over the pronunciation of the word kuchen (a discussion which ended with my throwing my hands in the air and reminding him that I am only half Ashkenazi, after all) I set to work on this terribly simple, and intoxicatingly delicious-smelling Eastern European dessert.

humble-looking plum kuchen... smells like home.

Plum Kuchen, adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

Kuchen is german for “cake”. This one is made by first assembling a pate brise-like bottom crust or cake, and then topping it with plums that have been tossed with sugar, cinnamon and flour. You can certainly use whatever purple plums are available in your area, just be sure to choose small one for this recipe. 

For the cake

1 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter/margarine

1 large egg

1/3 cup whole milk

grated zest of one lemon

melted butter/margarine for brushing

For the topping

1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar – depending on the sweetness of the plums

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour

8 small, ripe plums, halved and pitted

1 large egg yolk

2 Tbs heavy cream/soy milk or soy creamer

To make the cake, heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Add the shortening/butter/margarine and cut in using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Beat the egg, milk, and lemon zest together. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until blended.

Press the dough into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter/margarine.

To make the topping, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Arrange the plums cut side up on the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the fruit.

Blend the egg yolk with the cream and drizzle over the fruit. Bake for 35 minutes, covered for the first 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Orange-Lime Chiffon Cake

AriCooks, cake, Dairy Free, dessert, Summer

People often ask me how I find the time to cook at home. I’ll admit that in the past I’ve had a very tough time answering this question because the truth is I’ve never thought of it that way. Just as I did not have to “find time” to exercise when I was dancing daily and performing weekly, being a food person/pastry chef/cooking instructor means that I rarely have to “make time to cook”– it’s more than just a passion, it’s how I make sense of the world.

Orange-Lime chiffon Cake, heavily adapted from Gourmet Today 

The light, summery cake made my Friday this week, after Shabbat got in the way of my plans to get over to Tel Aviv for an Israel Food Tours get-together yesterday evening.  I may have missed Liz’s watermelon-arak salad (sniff), but having an impromptu Shabbat dinner with our sweet neighbors, that ended with slices of this cake, made me feel much better. 

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (I used white pastry flour– sift before measuring)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (divided)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

6 large eggs, separated when cold, then left to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes

6 Tbs fruity extra virgin olive oil

4 tsp finely grated orange zest

1 tsp finely grated lime zest

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F/175°C. Grease a 10-inch tube pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.

Sift together flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together yolks, oil, zests, juices, and vanilla in another bowl. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Beat whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer (or a determined arm and a ballon whisk) until the just hold soft peaks. Begin to add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar VERY SLOWLY– a couple tablespoons at a time, whisking/beating as your go, until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks (do not overdo it, or you will have dry cake). Stir about 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then GENTLY but thoroughly fold in the remaining whites. Spoon batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 min- 1 hour. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack. Turn cake out of pan onto a serving platter. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with yogurt, ice cream, fruit or tea.

Chocolate Sorbet

Dairy Free, dessert, Summer, Vegan

One of the food writers I’m acquainted with here in Israel has a blog aptly named, Hope it will Rain. This phrase is stuck in in my head these days, as the once-lush, green valley where we like to walk, has turned brittle and brown in recent weeks — typical for most of the country’s grassy spaces at the end of July.

A hot Shabbat afternoon in the Valley of the Cross עמק המצלבה

hot weather flowers

my favorite tree, next to the Monastery of the Cross

I can think of few things that sound better at the end of long, hot walk, than cold watermelon slices and chocolate sorbet. (And apparently, I’m not the only one.)

Chocolate Sorbet, from Smitten Kitchen

Due to factors beyond my control, I remain sans food-processor for the time being. It’s tough, but I try to take these things in stride. Likewise, when my ice cream-maker decided it didn’t like running on my little converter after a few minutes of weak churning, I simply poured the mixture into a tupperware and froze it as it was, with perfectly acceptable results. 

2 1/4 cups (555 ml) water

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan whisk together 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) of the water with the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Let it boil, continuing to whisk, for 45 seconds.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it’s melted, then stir in the vanilla extract and the remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) water. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender, or whisk very, very well. Chill the mixture thoroughly (for 3-5 hours), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the mixture has become too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out. If you do not have an ice cream maker, just freeze the chilled mixture and prepare yourself for some seriously rich, pudding-like, chocolate sorbet.

The New Englander within

AriCooks, dessert, Savory pies and quiches, Summer, Tips and Tricks, vegetarian

It’s always been like this. When you grow up in two places you develop a split (or “dual” if you’re feeling magnanimous) identity. When Jeff and I returned to the States in ’99, I was on a mission to embrace the American in me (the New Englander, especially) with a new and almost fanatical conviction. Done with feeling rootless, I embraced Boston and all it had to offer. My Israeli past became a footnote in conversation with new friends and acquaintances and over time I was able to avoid talking about it all together. Although I had many unresolved feelings and attachments towards the country where I had spent nearly a third of my pre-adult life, I tried to channel them all into my cooking, and spent little time thinking about or discussing Israel outside of the culinary sphere.

I did that for eleven years. Then one day, I looked at my little girl and realized that if I did not act, she might never have an Israeli identity (however fraught) of her own. Petrified by the thought, I began to reconsider my own position on the matter. Although both Jeff and I had benefited enormously from the experiences and connections we had made in Boston, if we stayed too much longer, leaving would be almost impossible professionally. Other repressed feelings began to well up and, feeling that we were at a crossroads, we decided to return despite the cries of shock from nearly everyone we knew. When you try to ignore a lost love for so long, and fool everyone else even half as well as you’ve fooled yourself, there will be some explaining to do.

All that being said, eleven years was the longest  time I ever spent outside Israel and I did succeed in becoming that American I wanted so badly to be. The New Englander within surprises me with her expectations and sometimes prudishness (shyness?). In a society where manners are at the bottom of most people’s priorities, my inner-Bostonian balks at behavior I would not have noticed at 19. I need an inch or two more personal space than most people and I don’t like touching anyone except my closest friends and family. I imagine these things will lessen over time, but other things, like my love of cranberry season, apple picking, and cider donuts, may not. That I love Maine summers and orange blossoms equally helps illustrate the crux of my problem. Destined to be a New Englander in Israel and an Israeli in New England, trying to figure out how to be at home in the world is my greatest challenge.

Friday Night Quiche and a Saturday Fruit Salad

Vegetable Quiche

SInce it’s July in Israel I suppose it goes without saying that stew was not on the menu last night. Coming up with filling (but not heavy) summer meals is my main culinary challenge right now. Cold noodle and grain salads have been our main courses for weeks and it was time for something else. I decided to capitalize on my challah’s baking time and do quiche simultaneously, a dish we enjoy cold as well as warm. 

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

8 Tbs cold Butter

2 Tbs cold shortening (I use the vegan margarine for this – you can also just use 2 more Tbs of butter)

1 egg yolk

ice water

Have all ingredients very cold (you can even mix the dry ingredients and put them in the fridge for a little while to chill them).

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor and add the butter and shortening (cut in Tbs-size chunks) and pulse a few times until butter and shortening are pea-size. Add yolk and a couple Tbs of cold water and pulse a few times until dough starts to come together it should not form a ball in your processor, but rather hold together in a clump, when squeezed. Add more cold water if necessary, just a little at a time, until you have a dough that you can squeeze into a ball. Turn it out onto a counter and gather together and press into a disk (handle as little as possible, so that your butter stays cold).

If you do this by hand, you must work very quickly, cutting the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter or 2 knives. Add the egg and ice water and continue to “cut” it in — not mixing or heating the dough up with your hands.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For the filling:

4-5 yellow onions, thinly sliced

2 large red bell peppers, roasted (see below)

I bunch of swiss chard, washed well, stems removed and chopped separately

1/3 cup goat/sheep feta

1/3-1/2 cup grated pecorino

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

olive oil

salt and pepper

caramelize the onions like this.

While the onions are caramelizing, roast the peppers:

Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a sheet pan lined with foil and slide them under the broiler. Let the skins of the peppers char on one side, then use tongs to turn each pepper 90 degrees. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed.

Place them in a bag or covered bowl and allow the skins to steam off for 15 minutes.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and slice thinly.

Add some olive oil to a wide saute pan (you can use the one you cooked the onions in) and saute the chopped chard stems with salt and pepper until they are soft, then add the chard leaves and cover the pot until they have cooked down, 5-7 minutes.

Roll out your pie dough — you will need to allow it to soften for 10 minutes out of the fridge. Dust a counter top and the surface of the dough with flour and roll out into a 1/3 inch-thick round. Transfer it to an ungreased pie plate and crimp the edges.

Parbake the crust for 10 minutes at 350°F/180°C, then remove from the oven.

Thinly slice the feta and spread it over the bottom of the shell. Next add 1/2 the onions and the peppers.

Spread the cooked chard (with stems) onto the pepper-onions layer, then add remaining onions and roasted peppers.

Beat 5-6 eggs with 1/2 the grated pecorino plus salt and pepper to taste and a 1/4 cup of milk or soy milk.

Pour the egg mixture into the shell and sprinkle parsley and the remaining pecorino over the top.

Bake at 350°F/180°C, for 35-45 minutes, until it is no longer wobbly in the center.

Summer Fruit Salad

Since I am a dessert show-off, my inner pastry-artist feels a bit stifled when I am asked to bring fruit to a gathering. In an effort to express myself fully while still honoring the hostess’s wishes, I got out my pastry cutter and went to work on this simple 3-fruit salad. 

1/4 watermelon

2 cups rainier cherries

3-4 large plums

mint sprigs

Chop or ball watermelon with a melon baller.

Pit and halve cherries

Thinly slice plums and use a star pastry/cookie cutter to cut stars out of the slices (or use whatever small cutter-shape you have handy).

Use the stars and the slices with the star cut-out to decorate the top of the fruit salad, as well as fresh mint sprigs.

figs, honey & feta

AriCooks, breakfast, dessert, Quick Meals, Summer, vegetarian

In an outdoor market full of beautiful figs, I was nearly giddy when I came across the most gorgeous, plump, perfectly shaped specimens this season could possibly offer.

The only way to do these fruits justice was to serve them unadulterated with flavors that complimented their seasonal perfection. Figs, I love you.

Mediterranean Fig, Honey and Feta Breakfast

This could also be a snack, dessert, or appetizer. All that really matters is that the fruits are fresh and room temperature and that the honey and feta and both good-quality.


Goat Feta

Pure Honey

Whole wheat bread of your choice (I got seeded whole wheat honey bread from Russell’s Bakery at Machane Yehuda).

Slice the figs in half or quarters, top with small slices of goat feta and drizzle with honey. Serve with whole wheat bread.

Welcoming July with Sour Cherry Pie

AriCooks, dessert, Fruit Pies, Summer

There are a lot of food goings-on to catch up with here on my blog. It has been a busy week; I was fortunate to see food-blogger friends more than once, attend a Spider Man birthday party, catch up with Liz and hear about her exciting adventures with the New Orleans Chef Delegation that was here in Israel last week, drink organic Israeli wine with an old friend, and congratulate a new friend, Irene, on her job at the Golan Winery!

And there was cherry pie.

While sweet cherry-season seems to be winding down at the shuk, sour cherries (as well a whole LOT of beautiful tiny okra) have arrived.The feeling that their time is fleeting, pushed me to scoop up a kilo last Sunday, and with Liz’s help, managed to pit the entire kilo in one sitting and bake the pie the same day (the cherry pitter was not so useful for these tiny fruits, and we ended up with very stained hands — part of the fun).

Photo by Liz.

Sour Cherry Pie 

You will need to make a double crust for this pie. Recipe here or here.

Mix the pitted cherries with a couple tablespoons of corn starch or potato starch. MIx in 1/2 cup- 2/3 cup sugar (to taste), plus the juice of half a lemon. Roll out the bottom crust and fit into a 9-10 inch pie plate. Pour in cherry filling.

Top with rolled-out top crust and crimp edges.  Sprinkle the top crust with sugar (you can use egg wash or not, it’s up to you). Bake at 350°F/175°C until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling ~40 minutes (check periodically, the timing will vary from oven to oven). Wait until the pie is COOL before slicing.