Most of the meals I make are what I’d consider everyday meals. They’re fairly simple, no-fuss preparations that I kind of just feel my way through, adding a little of this and a little of that, tasting and adjusting seasonings as I go. While this approach to cooking works well for me, it doesn’t translate as easily to baking.
Measurement, timing, temperature, and ratio play heavily in baking; working to ensure that pastry doesn’t turn out doughy, dense or gritty; that cakes rise; pies turn golden; and cream puffs puff. In baking, there’s not a lot of leeway for making adjustments once something has been committed to the oven.
For me, serious baking often requires some instructions and, oftentimes, a few trials to achieve success. As a result, I tend to lean toward simpler, more rustic desserts. My go-to dessert on many occasions is an easy, free-form, fruit-filled crostata. Once you’ve made a few of these you can practically produce them in your sleep. And, truth be told, I often turn to rolled, store-bought, pie dough that I keep in my freezer for the times I need a quick version of this dessert.
So, when Stemilt asked me for my take on cherry pie for a Memorial Day recipe, I immediately thought of how easy it would be to turn my go-to crostata into a subtly sweet dessert pizza! Not only is this a simple (and fun) offering, it’s a great way to showcase fruit without fiddling too much with its natural, delicious flavor. I believe that the less you do to mask great ingredients, like Stemilt’s beautiful cherries, the better.
And, apart from being a fun, simple and delicious take on dessert, it comes together easily with the help of a food processor.
This Rustic Cherry Pizza Pie involves just a few additional steps beyond my quickie crostata. The dough is a simple mix of almond meal, flour, butter, sugar, salt, and a little ice water. It’s super easy and completely prepped in a food processor. A few spins and a little rest in the fridge is all that’s required. Once chilled, the dough gets rolled out into a long rectangle and all four edges get folded in just a bit to create a nice, raised edge all the way around. First to go down is a crumb mixture — made with almond meal, fig jam, and granola. Then, after a quick spin in some melted jam, down go the cherries, nestled together snugly in a single layer like a carpet of ruby gems. The pizza bakes for 20 to 30 minutes at a moderately high heat, until the crust is lightly golden and the cherries are just slightly blistered (lending both a deeper flavor and a greater rustic appeal!). Once cooled, the pizza can be transferred (parchment and all) to a large cutting board for serving.
I love this no-frills approach to dessert. There’s no need for pomp and circumstance. Bring your cutting board to the table, along with a fine mesh strainer to dust on some powdered sugar… and slice up your pizza in any shape that suits your (un)fancy. Or, let guests carve off their own slices as they see fit… that’s half the fun in taking a casual, everyday approach with dessert.