Pitting cherries is hard work, especially when every second cherry ends up in your mouth instead of the bowl which takes twice the time but is also twice as much fun! Combine the Cherries with the honey, lemon zest and the vanilla pulp and beans in a pot and bring to a boil. Squeeze the lemon and mix the juice with the cornstarch, then stir it into the cooking cherries. Cook until it thickens, then remove the vanilla beans and let it cool down.
Now go on with the shortcrust pastry. A good pastry is tender and crumbly. If you knead it too much, the pastry gets sticky and hard. As you can see a shortcrust pastry is handled very little and mostly cold instead of yeast dough or batter. Cut the Alsan into small pieces und add it to the flour in a bowl. Mix the egg with the honey and also add it to the bowl. Quickly work the pastry and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Divide the shortcrust pastry; the bigger part forms the bottom crust and the smaller part the top crust. Thinly roll out (½ cm) in between of plastic wrap to a disc of 28 cm diameter. The most convenient way is to wrap the pastry around the rolling pin and to unroll it over the pie plate. Gently fit into the bottom and sides of the plate (do not stretch the pastry) and don’t cut off the overlapping parts. Prick the pastry with a fork and fill with the cherries. Then roll out the smaller disc to 25 cm diameter. Mix the egg with the milk and brush the edges with it in order to connect top and bottom. Cover with top pastry, seal and flute. Cut off the overlapping pastry and use it to decorate the pie. Finally coat the top with the egg mixture cut slits in it to let the steam escape and to avoid bursting. Bake it in the lower part of the oven for 35 minutes. If you like the pie warm, be prepared that the filling is still fluid and you cannot cut out pieces. For smaller servings, you can also bake little pies. If you prefer cutting the pie, let it cool down for some hours and maybe refrigerate it.
Mix the dry ingredients with Alsan, apple sauce and syrup and knead it until it becomes a smooth pastry. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry (the easiest way is to roll it out directly on baking paper) and place it carefully in a greased tart pan and prick it with a fork. Then bake for 15 minutes at 190°C in the oven. Until the pastry has cooled down, you can prepare different berries and the pastry cream for the filling. Mix 3 tablespoons of almond milk, the cornstarch and the sea salt in a bowl. Heat the rest of the milk in a pot and then add the apple syrup and the scratched pulp of the vanilla bean and the bean itself. As soon as the milk boils, pour in the cornstarch mix and quickly whisk it. Re-boil the cream until it gets thicker. Remove the vanilla bean. Spread the crust with jam, then fill in the pastry cream and let it cool down. Now you can spread it with the berries.
We finally had the time to pick strawberries on a field in Berlin on Sunday. We headed home with a brimful basket of fresh strawberries and made a yummy jam out of a part of the fruits. We tried to make the jam as fruity as possible without using refined sugar.
Wash, de-stem and puree the strawberries. To make the jam finer without any seeds, sieve the puree. Dissolve the Agar Agar powder in cold water and let it soak for 10 minutes. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise and scratch out the pulp and bring to a boil with the remaining ingredients. The jam should boil heavily for 2-3 minutes while stirring in order to reduce. Then fill the jam in jars which were washed with boiling water before.
Our basic recipe can be modified according to season, personal preference and with all fruit you can think of. It is important to only use fruit without soft or rotten spots. The jars should be kept in the fridge because we left out the sugar that normally conserves the jam. If you take out the jam with a clean spoon, the jam can be kept for a month.