Door County Sour Cherry Preserves for Brioche


Yes, I did bake some brioche on the outdoor gas grill, and it works quite well, but more on that in a minute.  My family just got back from Door County, Wisconsin, home of the famous Montmorency sour cherry.  It has an indescribable, almost spicy flavor that can be perfectly heightened by adding sugar in jams and sauces (they’re not for eating out of hand).  For jams, you’re pretty limited to a sweet version (for canning safety), and that’s what’s pictured above.  It’s what we gave you in the book (page 213 of Artisan Bread in Five).  When my family goes to the Door peninsula, we make a bunch of different versions, some that we can and store; but some that we just eat immediately.  This time around, we put the cherry preserve on top of luscious brioche (yes, done on the grill).  Then we gilded the lily with a little fresh whipped cream:


We ate very, very well, and everyone was in a good mood–no one was voted off the peninsula.  Cherries and brioche didn’t hurt– 

The tart and lean Montmorency cherry is a perfect foil for the sweet and rich brioche, but any sour cooking cherry will work well.


We like to pick our own– the kids (not to mention the grownups) get a great sense of accomplishment by completing the circle from the grower to the cherry cook to the baker.


The color of these cherries is very different from the sweet eating cherries that we all love.  They look more like tomatoes:


You can’t do this job without a cherry-pitter.  We use this old-fashioned one; it’s readily available all over Door County or even on the web.  You need a glass jar that fits it, but you just place the cherry over the hole, and WHACK! (well, do it gently, and be aware that it occasionally misses a pit so you have to pick over your pitted cherries):


In our recipe on page 213 of the book, you just chop the pitted cherries and measure them into a saucepan, adding one box of fruit pectin:


Bring the mixture to a boil, dump in all the sugar at once and bring it back to a full rolling boil, and cook for 1 minute.


Pour the preserves into clean canning jars and process according to canner and U.S. Department of Agriculture instructions (if you don’t want to process and can the preserves, they can be stored under refrigeration for 2 months or frozen for up to 1 year).


OK, now about that brioche, and how to do it on the outdoor gas grill.  While brioche can be finicky about scorching, I had no problem using the same method I used for my Rustic Fruit Tart on the Gas Grill.  Just prepare the dough as in the book on page 189, and form a grapefruit-sized loaf (about one pound or 450 grams), by gluten-cloaking as we’ve showed before on this site.  Handle it as little as possible, pulling the top around to the bottom as you rotate it; you should be able to form the ball in under 30 seconds.  Use a baking stone on the gas grill, light all the burners (for evenness) and fiddle with the controls until you get a constant 350 degrees F. reading on the grill’s thermometer.  And don’t bake directly on the stone; you need a Silpat or cookie sheet to protect the delicate brioche bottom from the rude stone.  No need for additional pictures, I think (except for the “Goodbye from Door County” shot):


If you can spend time with your family cooking and eating like this, life is good.  And very, very simple.  Have a great August.

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18 thoughts to “Door County Sour Cherry Preserves for Brioche”

  1. No Door County Sour Cherries available here, but splendid Black Cherry Jam, 80% fruit and 20% sugar only but perfectly sweet with big chunks of fruit, from the French “Pays Basque”, on fresh sourdough, and yes, life is easy and good that way. Have a great August too, Jeff.

  2. Thanks for stopping in, Flo, it’s nice to hear from you again. Love to visualize this same scene in Pays Basque. Mmm.

  3. yes, Montmorency cherries are great cooked: jam, sauce (so good with pancakes or ice-cream!), cobblers, pies, coffee-cake etc. But don’t say “not for eating out of hands”, some of us (mme.. me?) do eat them out of hands if only they can get their hands on some that is!

    Thanks for the good memories!

  4. Well, OK, you are right. I always eat a few out of hand, even though most people think they’re too sour.

    I have to admit I don’t know exactly where I’d buy sour cherries off the peninsula. My guess is that sweet cherries, cooked briefly with a little less sugar, would be just fine.

    Thanks for your comment! Jeff

  5. I am so jealous of your cherries, Jeff! My source didn’t come through for me this year and my freezer supply is dwindling. I made a couple batches of Cherry Raspberry Jam with the sour cherries to extend them.

    Your pictures are wonderful. I’m noticing your floating cherries. . . stirring the jam slowly for 5 minutes before jarring often helps prevent that.


  6. Hi Bubbles: It’s true, the supply of sour cherries was lame this year because of the cool spring.

    The sour cherry preserve you developed for Gedney is my touchstone for a commercial sour cherry product if we hadn’t have been able to get our hands on these from the source this year!

    I’ll pass along your advice about the floating cherries to my wife, who’s the canning expert at my house. Thank you so much! Jeff

  7. Thanks, but. . . those State Fair contests, by and large, are not about developing anything, Jeff. They are all about how well one does it—things that encompass product selection, technique, safe processing. Only a few Fair contests are about creativity and new recipes. There are only about three ways that I know of to make cherry jam, Kiddo. Bring your wife to the B&N at the Galleria on the 25th at 7:00 p.m. I’ve been invited to speak at Kim Ode’s monthly Edesia Cookbook Review that night. Should be fun; I’ve got my pearls polished! “-) June Cleaver lives! And maybe I’ll have another medal to flash!

  8. Hey, J&Z:
    I just heard from my Montmorency cherry connection! They brought me 10# of frozen cherries! Hoo-yah!! WeBeJammin’!


  9. Dear Zoe & Jeff,

    Well I’ve had your book for about 3 weeks now, and not a day goes by that doesn’t have me baking bread!

    Today it was Brioche and oh my goodness was it delicious. I cannot thank you enough for this remarkable book. I’ve told everyone I know about it, including taking it to my monthly book club to rave on and on about it…I’m sure I’ll be back to sing your praises again. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Tora in Chagrin Falls, Ohio

  10. Hi Tora,

    Thank YOU so much for the lovely note. We’re glad you are enjoying all the bread, especially the brioche (my personal favorite!).

    Enjoy, Zoë

  11. What size brioche pan do you recommend for your recipe? There’s quite a size range…
    Thanks! I love the bread and make it a few times a week.

    1. Hi Andrea,

      The Brioche pan that I use is 7″ at the top and 3 1/2″ at the bottom. You can use any size, just fill it 3/4 full. Obviously you will need to increase or decrease the resting and baking times depending on the size.

      Thanks! Zoë

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