The ingredient I am working with this week is cherries. And since I love baking, the first recipe post for this week is a cherry and almond loaf cake, from Nigella Lawson. The recipe is simple and uncomplicated and calls for candied glacè cherries.
I have eaten lots of glacè cherries as a child- there used to be a bakery near my grandmother’s house that sold them in little sachets, and I’d sometimes pick them up on the way back from my math tutor’s house and eat them in secret. Sometimes, to the point of being sick. They are pretty wonderful. BUT since I bought desi cherries, I had to make do.
The cherries were sweet, but not sweet enough for my liking- so I decided to let them macerate in a some sugar and lemon juice for a bit. I always wondered what ‘macerate’ meant…I mean, it sounds like a fatal, sinister thing that would happen to a fruit, right? (Did you hear about those strawberries from Mahabaleshwar? They had to be macerated. The entire box of ’em. Just weren’t sweet enough. Shudder.) But I watched a cooking show and soon figured out that macerate was a method used to soften fruit to break it up. Anyhow. I let the cherries macerate, drained the syrup and patted dry with a kitchen towel. Then I got on with the rest of the cake.
As usual, I did not blanch the almonds. This time it was not because I wanted my usual ‘speckled effect,’ in fact, this cake would have looked much nicer if it was a plain white cake punctured by red cherries. This time, I was just plain lazy. (I have my moments, yes indeed.)
CHERRY ALMOND LOAF (Adapted From How To Be A Domestic Goddess)
- 100 g cherries, pitted and sliced
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar + 2 tablespoons lemon juice to macerate the cherries in
- 110 g butter at room temperature
- 90 g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 eggs, beaten (take the second egg, beat it in a small bowl and use half the amount.)
- 125 g flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 50 g ground almonds
- 3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
- Place the chopped cherries in a bowl and mix well with the sugar and lemon juice. Let it sit for 15 minutes to half an hour. (If you have more time on your hands, let it sit for longer.) Once they have soaked up some of that lemony syrup, drain and pat dry with a kitchen towel. In a separate bowl, toss the cherries in a little flour and keep aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the beaten eggs.
- Seive the flour + baking powder over the batter and fold it in.
- Fold in the ground almonds. The batter may look like it is too dry, but it will come together. Just keep folding!
- Fold in the flour-dusted cherries, followed by the milk. You will get a thick, slightly sticky mixture.
- Pour the batter into a 6-inch loaf tin and bake at 170C for 45 minutes to an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I’ll be honest with you- this cake is nice, but I’m quite certain it is more ‘meant to be’ with glacè cherries. Their firm, waxy texture would add a lovely bite and make them stand out more. These cherries really would have been lost if I had not macerated them. (Oh, the poor dears.) Either way, it is still most agreeable as far as an afternoon tea-time nibble goes. And yes, it was fun…and that’s an important aspect of being in the kitchen right?