November 27, 2015 — Dairy

Cherry Pithiviers

  • 1.5 hours
  • 1, 6 PEOPLE
  • medium

‘… Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on a winters night in front of the TV watching your favourite series.’

‘Dad text me saying he'd made Pithiviers, and I was thinking

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What you need

For the pastry

375g block ready-made pastry

1 large egg yolk


For the filling

440g can of cherries in syrup

100g soft unsalted butter

100g icing sugar

100g ground almonds

2 tbs flour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large organic egg

1 (large) egg yolk


For the cherries

30ml port (optional)

1 tbs caster sugar


For the cherry sauce

30ml port (optional)

2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp corn flour



Dad's Recipe Tales

Life is a bowl of cherries…

Now there’s a proposition. It could be a question in a psychology exam: ‘Explain how the proposition supports the concept of “The Good Life”. Discuss making reference to the possible meaning of cherries in Heidegger’s theories on phenomenology, compare and contrast with the existentialists views of Jean-Paul Satre, exploring the role of the ‘pips’ in a sociopolitical context.’

The short answer is that the phrase was used in a popular song and intended to express the notion that just as the cherries are simply ordinary fruit in a bowl, life is what it is and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, the phrase is now used to describe the idea that life is pleasant. This new meaning must have evolved to reflect either the scarcity of cherries, or the refusal of the populace to accept that cherries are hum-drum. Certainly, when I’m lucky enough to be eating a bowl of cherries I feel privileged: if life is a bowl of cherries – then life is pleasant indeed.

What’s a pithivier?

It is commonly assumed these pastries are called pithiviers after the town in France. They are based on the galette des rois, which is served on the 6 January (Epiphany). Rather like our Christmas pudding, which hides a 6 pence, the French tarte conceals trinkets for children to find, who will then be named king and/or queen for the day. Clearly the galette is too good to keep for a single day of the year, so with the addition of cherries it has been adapted into pithiviers. The scoring and edging is done in the style of the original galette and and represents a crown.

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Drain the cherries using a strainer over a bowl – leave them for 5 minutes.
  2. Divide the block of pastry into 4 even pieces. Roll them into smooth round balls cover in cling film and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Shake the cherries and place in a medium sized non-stick frying pan. Add the sugar and port. If not using port substitute the cherry syrup. (Alternative to port are, rum, brandy, amaretto, kirsch.) Heat on a medium to high heat until the liquid has evaporated. Drain the cherries again over the bowl of cherry syrup. NB: Canned cherries can be soft, bland and watery. This process intensifies the flavour and slightly dehydrates them whilst firming the flesh.
  4. Beat the softened butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until smooth and then the yolk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat until smooth and then mix in the ground almonds. Finally pat the cherries with a paper towel and add to the mixture. Stir gently to mix and put in the refrigerator to chill and firm for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the pastry on a flat floured surface to make two even discs – one slightly larger than the other – approximately 13cm for the smaller and 15cm for the larger. Use plates or flan bases as a guide.Cover each well with four and stack on a plate. Put into the refrigerator to firm for 20 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 180C Gas 4.
  7. Assemble the pithiviers. Divide the filling in half. Place the filling in the centre of the two larger discs and flatten slightly leaving a border of 2cm – 4cm. make an egg glaze by whisking the egg yolk with a teaspoon of water. Brush around the outside of pastry bases. lay the other pastry discs over the filling and bases and gently shape to form the pithiver. Cut a slit in the middle to allow for steam to escape and score a spiral-like pattern over each. Brush with egg glaze again and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes. Rotate on shelves if necessary and check to ensure they do not burn.
  8. Make a cherry sauce by adding the sugar (taste to check for sweetness – the level of sugar in the canned syrup will vary) and the port (if using). Heat the syrup to bubble and evaporate the alcohol – lower the heat. Mix the corn flour with a tablespoon of water and add to the syrup. Heat and stir for a couple of minutes.
  9. Serve the pithiviers warm with sauce and cream.


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