If you grew up in the Midwest, you probably went picking at some point. We used to go cherry picking in Door County. I'm a huge fan of pick-your-own kinds of places. We would go to pick our own cherries, apples, blueberries, and strawberries, pick the best pumpkin at the patch, and even chop down our own Christmas tree. Those memories are fabulous ones for me. I loved eating too many apples, watching them tumble through the washer/sorter machine, tasting the cider and going on wagon rides. My girls loved bundling up warm to search through the snow and pick the perfect tree, exploring the teepee, drinking hot chocolate and the smell of pine at Krueger's.
Yes, those bags are full of tart, Door County cherries. LOVE THEM! Now, cherries do not grow well here in Colorado. Nor do apples I learned last fall when I thought I'd take my girls apple picking. And Christmas trees? Those are shipped in from....Michigan! and Minnesota! and Washington state! Sigh, so it goes I guess. There's a reason we don't grow pineapples in Wisconsin, right? I am looking forward to peach season here, though. I hear the green chiles are fantastic, too, though I'm not sure about a pick-your-own pepper adventure just yet ;)
Instead of picking our own, we bought our cherries at the super market. Lush, sweet cherries, just right for baking something yummy. And, since we had some time on our hands this afternoon, that exactly what we did. I pulled my new handy dandy pitter and brought over the stool and extra chair. My littles love to help me cook. They are excellent mixers and taste-testers, as you can see.
Since moving to Colorado, I find that I have to watch my oven more closely. The main factor affecting baking here is the low pressure that results from the higher altitude. It leads to lower boiling points, faster evaporation and rapid rising. In addition, the low humidity can dry ingredients out, resulting in a dry texture and crumbly bread or muffin.
I found three basic adjustments for high-altitude baking: reduce the leavening agent (baking soda or baking powder), reduce the sugar, and increase the liquid. One or all of these things may be needed to adjust a sea level recipe successfully. Now, I'm not sure exactly what altitude most cookbooks are written for. However, since the temperature for baking above 3500 feet should be 25 degrees HIGHER than at sea level, and baking times are therefore shorter, you may want to try your oven at 375/350 and bake for 20-25 minutes if you're not in the mountains. (source)
Here's our yummy Cherry Pecan Cacao muffins for you. Kid tested, mummy approved!
Recipe adapted from Megan McBride Conte's yummy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
How do you like your cherries? Please share with us!