Redolent of holiday flavour, my recipe for Cherry and Almond Cake is inspired by richly moist Italian tea cakes.
Growing up, discovering fresh cherries in the supermarket was cause for great excitement. Usually found only in tins or of the glacé variety, cherries symbolise celebration – the burst of sweetness in a festive fruit loaf, the sugar-shiny bauble atop a birthday cake – which makes finding them fresh all the more special.
Here in South Africa, cherries are predominately grown in the Ceres valley, cultivated by the temperate climate and generous rainfall experienced by the area. One of the biggest producers in the valley is Du Toit Agri with their cultivar Cherry Time proving to be as popular as they are delicious. I was fortunate enough to receive a whopping two kilograms of fresh cherries direct from the Ceres valley. After munching enough fruit to replicate that scene from 1987 film The Witches of Eastwick, I decided that the second-best way to enjoy my sweet haul was to bake this versatile stone fruit into a cake.
Enter my recipe for Cherry and Almond Cake. A tender crumb thanks to almond flour, this recipe makes use of the understated sweetness of cherries and the marzipan notes of flaked almonds. A winner of a dessert, especially when paired with a retro liqueur.
Cherry and Almond Cake
Prep time: /Cook time: /Serves: 6-8
You will need:
- 125g salted butter, at room temperature
- 125g white sugar
- 2 large organic eggs
- 50g cake flour
- 100g ground almonds or almond flour
- 3g baking powder
- Roughly 20 cherries, pitted and halved
- 50g flaked almonds
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a springform pan with butter and line the base with baking paper.
In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg. Use a spatula to fold in the cake flour, almond flour and baking powder. Spoon the batter into the prepared springform pan and use the spatula to smooth the top. The batter will only fill the pan about 2.5cm thick.
Arrange the cherry halves over the top of the batter and bake in the preheated oven (fan off) for 25 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and return the cake to the oven for the further 10 minutes. The cake is cooked once a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the pan before turning it out and dusting the top with icing sugar. Serve the cake with an almond liqueur like Frangelico.