Local cherry season forfeit for so much rain

MCT photo

The upside to all this rain — for gardeners at least — is freedom for a few days from watering. And heads of lettuce won’t be wilting in the sun.

The casualty was local cherries.

Planning to highlight the fruit for Fourth of July, I had no sooner put a call into Ashland’s Valley View Orchard last week to gauge cherries’ projected availability than owners were calling the season on account of rain. Sugar Plum Acres in Phoenix reported Monday that its cherries also were picked out after a single weekend of ripeness.

What’s a food-section editor who needs to plan at least a week in advance to do? Give readers a taste of what we had planned, apparently.

I’ve been holding onto this recipe for Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia for the past year, in hopes that the cherry tree in my yard would produce as well as it did in 2009. I’d have enough fruit for freezing if it attained the record yields of 2007.

Sadly, it isn’t to be, and I’m left with the choice of purchasing road-weary Washington cherries or shelving this one for another year. What would you do?

Sour Cherry and Rosemary Focaccia

1 1⁄2 pounds bread flour, (4 1⁄2 to 5 cups), plus more for surface and bowl

2 3⁄4 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)

3⁄4 teaspoon active dry yeast (from one .25-ounce envelope)

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt

1⁄3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces (about 2 cups) pitted, fresh sour cherries (or thawed and drained frozen)

2 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the flour, water and yeast until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until tripled in volume and bubbling, for about 2 hours.

Add the salt to bowl. Switch mixer to dough-hook attachment and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Raise speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds. (Dough should be loose and sticky.)

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface using a dough scraper. Fold bottom edge of dough up toward center and pat gently to deflate. Fold top edge down toward center and pat gently. (Folds should overlap slightly.) Repeat with left and right sides, tapping off excess flour as you work. (Dough will be difficult to handle, but try not to incorporate too much flour.) Gently flip dough into a lightly floured bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, for about 1 hour.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and repeat folding process. Transfer dough to a lightly floured bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Pour the 1⁄3 cup oil onto a 13-by-17-inch, rimmed baking sheet, coating entire surface. Turn out dough onto baking sheet, coating bottom with oil. Push dough out toward edges of baking sheet using your fingertips. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes, pressing dough toward edges occasionally.

Drizzle dough with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Scatter the cherries over top and sprinkle with the sugar and rosemary.

Bake in lower third of preheated oven or on a pizza stone placed on oven floor, rotating halfway through, until bottom is golden-brown, for 30 to 40 minutes. Immediately slide focaccia out of baking sheet onto a wire rack. Drizzle with any oil left in pan. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

— Recipe from the July 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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