We eat it hot or cold, as pudding, sometimes with vanilla ice cream or custard, mostly just so. We eat it for breakfast, elevenses or for afternoon tea. Back in my German home region (die Pfalz), this is traditionally eaten with a garden vegetable soup for Saturday lunch. It’s delicious at any time, in any form, and right now is the perfect time. The cherries are beginning to ripen and the shops are full of them, if not your own cherry trees!
To make a generous portion for four, you need
1 stale loaf of crusty white sourdough bread or ciabatta, 400 g
80 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or equivalent amount of vanilla essence
3 happy free range eggs
1 pint whole milk
Plenty of fresh cherries, preferably pitted. Dark sweet or Morello cherries will be fine.
Cut the bread into chunky pieces. Make sure to include the crust!
If the bread is fresh, spread it out on a baking tray and pop it into the oven at 70 C (150 F) for 45 minutes.
Mix the sugar, vanilla seeds or essence, a pinch of cinnamon, eggs and milk in a mixing bowl. Add the dried bread chunks and let soak for one or two hours (longer if the bread is bone dry). Gently turn this over occasionally but try to preserve the chunkiness.
Butter a suitable sized Pyrex or similar baking dish, about 50 mm (2”) deep. The batter mix should now be very wet without much running liquid left. Discard most surplus liquid if necessary, then add the cherries.
Pour the mix into the baking dish. Add a few small butter shavings on top. Optionally, sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, then bake at 210 C (410 F) for half an hour. It’s ready when the surface colours and gets nice dark golden edges around the crusty bread pieces.
Let it cool down a little, then enjoy.