I came across the recipe for Sour Cherry Cakes (Višňové koláče) when I was researching beer as an ingredient in Slovak cooking. You might not know, as I hadn’t before, that beer can also be used in baking – with excellent results. And you may be surprised, as I was two years ago, just by how tasty these little cherry-filled parcels are.
In my mind, sour cherries are associated with the summers at my grandparents’ house in the south of Slovakia. There was a sour cherry tree in their garden, and I remember eating the fleshy crimson fruit straight from the tree by dozens. Despite their sour taste, I liked them more than regular cherries, because they were worm-free. My Grandma would preserve them in bottles for later use in cakes, especially her fabulous strudels.
The old cherry tree is still there, and my aunt and her husband, who now take care of the house and the garden, continue the family tradition of preserving the produce. They were more than happy to provide bottled sour cherries for my experiments.
Sour Cherry Cakes
Makes about 30
- 200 ml beer
- 350 g pastry flour
- 150 g butter
- 100 g sugar
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of salt
- sour cherries (canned or fresh)
- whipping cream
- Take the butter out of the fridge and put it in a large mixing bowl. Let soften for a while and sieve the flour onto it. Add the sugar, the beer, the eggs and a pinch of salt. Combine until you achieve a smooth dough. Cover with a dishtowel and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the cherries, cut them in halves and remove the stones. If you’re using canned cherries, strained them on a sieve.
- Take the dough out of the fridge. Transfer it on a floured surface and roll out to 3 mm thickness. With a pastry wheel or a floured knife, cut out squares about 5 cm wide. Put two cherry halves in the middle of each square and wrap up. Leave some of the cherries for decoration.
- Line a baking tray with a piece of parchment and distribute the cakes on it, leaving some space in between. Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden.
- Transfer on a cooling rack or a plate. Decorate with the whipped cream and the remaining cherries.
The recipe for Sour Cherry Cakes (Višňové koláče) is also featured in A Taste of Slovakia book. You will find it in the chapter on Slovak beer. The book is available in selected bookshops and Tourist Information Centres around Slovakia, as well as a few places in the UK, the USA and Australia. If you’d like to have a copy delivered to your postal address, please get in touch via the form below and I’ll send you a price quote.
Looking forward to hearing from you,