Cherry Almond Coffeecake Tart

When you’re the Dean of The Pie Academy and avowed champion of all things pastry, certain people aren’t shy about letting you know when your good graces are expected.

Take, for instance, this email I received the other day from one of my sisters, whom I’ll call Joanne since that’s her name:

It’s Joe’s birthday this week. It would be lovely if you could do something special. He likes almost anything with fruit. Just a suggestion… 

There are a couple of things you should know here: Joe is our brother-in-law, and a few of us are meeting in Marco Island, Florida this week for a mini reunion.

And – despite her email’s accommodating tone – this was not a suggestion: it was a directive, encrypted with the sort of secret family code only a sibling could crack. Roughly translated: If you ever expect to use my beach house again or receive so much as a bag of pretzels next Christmas, you had better show up with something special. 

She needn’t have worried; I planned to anyway. Indeed, I knew this week’s featured recipe – Cherry Almond Coffeecake Tart – would do quite nicely. For one, it travels well. For another, thanks to frozen fruit, it treats us to the flavor and promise of summer when fresh cherry season is still months away.

If you find the phrase coffeecake tart confusing, I take full responsibility. I made it up, but it was the best I could manage to describe this hybrid dessert. There’s crust and plenty of fruit – that’s the tart part – surrounded by what tastes like a very dense, almost marzipan-like almond coffeecake. Linguistically challenging, perhaps, but very easy on the taste buds and eyes.

Speaking of which, you’ll notice that I’ve made this in a tart pan, not a pie pan. I like the tart pan here because there is enough room to arrange the cherries in a single layer, making for a very attractive presentation after it bakes. It also keeps the almond layer to a uniform thickness throughout. However, if you don’t have a tart pan, by all means substitute a pie pan and turn this into a pie.

Or, buy one from my limited stock of Le Creuset tart pans, on special sale this week. (Send me an email if you’d like more details about ordering.)

As for those cherries, I think the quality of frozen fruit is generally much better than it gets credit for. It’s often preferable to fresh. Frozen fruit is picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen so it retains its sweetness. Especially when you’re baking with it, it’s a good option. Be sure to blot them on paper towels, as I describe.

Have a great week, enjoy the tart, and keep those emails coming. It’s always great to hear from you.

Ken Haedrich

PASTRY NOTE: While any favorite pie pastry recipe will do, I recommend my GOOOD BASIC PIE DOUGH.  

Cherry Almond Coffeecake Tart

Ingredients

  • Good Basic Pie Dough, refrigerated
  • FILLING
  • 2 cups pitted frozen sweet cherries (use fresh cherries in season, if desired)
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs PLUS 2 yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Instructions

  1. Put a double layer of paper towels on a baking sheet. Place the frozen cherries on the towels, stem end down, and thaw to room temperature.
  2. On a sheet of lightly floured wax paper, roll the pastry into a 13" circle. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2" - 10" quiche pan or tart pan, center, and peel off the paper. Gently tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, then pinch the edge into an upstanding rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°.
  3. Tear off a 16" long sheet of aluminum foil and press it into the firmed shell so it fits like a glove. To prevent the pie shell from puffing as it bakes, fill the foil about 3/4 full with dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  4. Bake on the center oven rack for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°. Remove the shell from the oven, then carefully lift out the foil and beans. Using a fork, poke the bottom pastry 6 or 7 times; the holes will keep the pastry from puffing. Put the shell back in the oven and bake another 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a rack. (Plug the holes with dabs of cream cheese so the filling doesn't run out.) Make sure the oven is set to 350°.
  5. Combine the almonds, flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process to a fine meal. Set aside.
  6. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, yolks, sour cream, and remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Blend in the melted butter and extracts. Stir in the dry mixture, beating on low speed just until evenly blended.
  7. Ladle about one-third of the almond batter into the tart shell. Arrange the cherries over the batter in a single layer, then carefully ladle on the rest of the batter.
  8. Bake the tart on the center oven rack for 30 minutes, then rotate 180° so it bakes evenly. Bake another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tart is somewhat puffy and golden brown. It should not seem loose in the center when you give the pan a quick little nudge. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool. Serve at room temperature. This refrigerates beautifully and also tastes good somewhat chilled. Makes 10 servings.
http://thepieacademy.com/cherry-almond-coffeecake-tart/