I like to experiment in the kitchen. Just like I like making stuff up on paper, I make stuff up with food. I especially love trying new, complicated recipes. They have to be complex. I get a charge out of that complexity, like I might be in the kitchen building my own culinary nuclear bomb, but only if I get Every Last Step exactly right. There should probably be a drug for that.
Sometimes the results aren't so great. Most times, we end up with something passably edible - you know - no one complaining, but no one raving, either. Then, every once in a while, we'll try something and everyone's eyes roll back in their heads (in a good way!) and we have a massive hit on our hands. From the ranks of those winner recipes, a few exalted get requested year after year, thereby attaining legendary status.
This is one of those recipes. It's our Solstice tradition. It takes three days to make (to achieve the greatest flavor.) Added bonuses: It requires power tools, and it's messy.
Doesn't this look appetizing??
This is Cherry Ring. The recipe comes from the December 1998 Vegetarian Times
3 Cups unbleached white flour
1/2 Cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 Cup milk
1/4 Cup oil
1/4 tsp Almond extract
1/2 Cup blanched almonds toasted
2 Cups dried cherries
1/3 Cup honey
1/4 Cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
Put all of your try ingredients into the bowl of a mixer. Add the butter and start the mixer on low to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk your eggs, milk, oil and extract together. Add to your dry ingredients. Mix until the dough forms. Turn out on lightly floured waxed paper and knead a few turns until everything holds together. Wrap your dough well in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Put all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until coursely chopped. Cover and let sit overnight.
To assemble: Preheat oven to 375. Roll dough out between two sheets of waxed paper. Roll into an 18x9 inch rectangle. Remove top sheet of paper. Trim a one inch bit of dough from either end and set aside. Spoon filling in a 2-inch wide strip lengthwise down the center of the dough. Lift your bottom sheet of paper along one long edge and fold the dough over the filling. Repeat for other side. Press the edges together to seal. Invert seam side down on a cookie sheet. Coax into ring shape on the cookie sheet. You'll have to do some dough repair, but a few cracks won't hurt anything. If you're really ambitious, roll out your scraps and cut out holly leaves and roll berries to use for decoration on the ring. Paint with food coloring for extra effect. Brush with egg white and bake 30-40 minutes.
You want this baked the day before you need it. The shortbread layer softens and turns melt-in your mouth lovely for sitting the extra time.