Wild Cherry Cake

Wild Cherry Cake 1

When it came to creating a cake to accompany Where the Wild Cherries Grow, I knew I wanted it to contain three things. Cherries – as might be found on Emeline and Aaro’s secret tree – were a must. Almonds too; the medieval Catalan recipe collection The Book of Sent Sovi is full of recipes featuring fragrant almonds, in broths, sauces, creams and puddings…

Last of all, I wanted it to contain a hint of sweet, heady wine, the kind I drank during my visit to French Catalonia. Banyuls is vin doux naturel, a strong dessert wine made in only four places along the Côte Vermeille: Banyuls-sur-Mer, Port-Vendres, Collioure and Cerbère. It’s almost a metaphor for the spirit of the place; the vines have to be hardy to grow in the rocky, arid soil, but they’re helped along by the bright sunlight that ripens the grapes and la Tramontana, the wind from the mountains, that sweeps any pests out to sea. In my memory, Banyuls tastes honeyed and deep, like peaches and apricots baked slowly in a clay pot over embers.

Sadly, Banyuls is notoriously tricky to find outside of France, so I’d suggest using whatever good quality, rich dessert wine you can lay your hands on. Of course, if you do happen to find a bottle, you know who to call if you want to share…

Wild Cherry Cake 2

Wild Cherry Cake

For the cherries in syrup:

  • 150g morello cherries, fresh or frozen (and defrosted)
  • 3 tbsp good quality sweet dessert wine
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

For the cake:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 160g self-raising flour
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
  • Large handful dried cherries
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Handful flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar, to decorate

Allons-y!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 inch deep cake tin.
  2. Place the cherries, wine, cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl and toss gently until combined. Set aside to infuse.
  3. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg to the butter mix, along with a tablespoon of the flour (to stop the mixture from splitting) and beat well. Repeat with the rest of the eggs, beating well in between.
  5. Add the rest of the flour in thirds, folding in gently until it is just combined and no streaks are showing.
  6. Gently stir in the ground almonds, vanilla and dried cherries.
  7. Spoon two-thirds of the infusing cherries onto a plate and toss in the remaining 1 tbsp of flour. (This’ll stop them all sinking to the bottom) Put the syrup and remaining cherries to one side.
  8. Carefully stir the flour-coated cherries into the mixture, making sure they’re evenly distributed. Add a splash of milk if the mixture needs loosening.
  9. Dollop into the tin, smooth over the top and bake for around 30-35 minutes, or until golden and risen, and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in its tin on a wire rack.

To decorate:

  1. While the cake is still warm, prick holes all over the surface with a skewer.
  2. Spoon the cherry-wine-cinnamon syrup over the top so that it soaks in.
  3. Lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes. Keep your eye on them, because they’ll catch quickly.
  4. Decorate the cake with the remaining infused cherries, almonds, and a dusting of icing sugar. Eat with a glass of brandy or sweet wine and dream yourself away to a warm summer’s night, outside a seafront café, at the very end of France…

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Cake Time: Raspberry Ripple Cake

raspberry ripple cake © L Madeleine

It’s a truth universally acknowledged amongst my friends and family that I am what is known as  a berry fiend. Raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants… any berry or red fruit and I am the happiest person in the world. Raspberries are my absolute favourite though. I can disappear a punnet of them in under a minute.

Food-wise, I think this is the best time of year, purely because berries and cherries are ripe in the UK, and they’re beautiful: fragrant and perfumed, tasting of the sun and summer, rather than watery, tasteless versions force-grown and imported in winter. They’re so delicious, you really don’t need to do anything with them, but if you are overwhelmed by one particular variety, here’s a recipe for you.

You can substitute the raspberries for another fruit – blackcurrants work well – and mess around with the jam and nut combo, if you like. Blackberry and hazelnut would work nicely, later on in the season. Anyway, enjoy!

L x

Raspberry Ripple Cake
Ingredients:
For the cake
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (do try to use real vanilla if you can, though)
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp raspberries
For the topping
  • 2 large tbsp raspberry jam
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
Allons-y!
The cake:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 900g / 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs, then add to the mixture gradually, with 2 teaspoons of the flour to stop the mixture from separating. Mix well.
  4. Using the point of a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir into the mixture (Or add the vanilla extract, if using).
  5. Sift in the remaining flour in batches, folding in gently using a metal spoon. Add the almonds, along with enough milk to make a smooth batter and stir gently to combine.
  6. Place the raspberries in a separate bowl and mash into a puree.
  7. Take 2 tbsp of the batter and add to the raspberries, stirring well.
  8. Using a separate spoon for each mixture, dollop the batters into the tin alternately, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered.
  9. Smooth over the top. Use a skewer to drag through the mixture in swirls to create a ripple effect.
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is set and a skewer comes out clean. (If  the top is browning too quickly, cover in foil until the rest catches up. Fan ovens are notorious for this!) Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the greaseproof paper.
The topping:
  1. Melt the raspberry jam in a saucepan, adding a quick splash of water if it looks too thick. Set aside.
  2. In a dry frying pan gently toast the almonds, tossing frequently until golden brown. (Careful, they’ll burn the moment you’ve got your back turned…)
  3. Spoon the raspberry syrup evenly over the cooled cake and scatter with toasted almonds to decorate.

This recipe first appeared on the much-loved, much-missed Domestic Sluttery

Book Release Cake Time: St Germain Cake

St Germain CakeToday I’m sharing a recipe that I created specially for the launch of The Confectioner’s Tale. It involves some of my favourite things: raspberries, almonds and a more than generous helping of St Germain: a beautiful elderflower liqueur made from blossom hand-picked in the Alps (with a bottle that’s pure Belle Époque).

Named after the area on the Parisian Left Bank that – in its heyday – harboured artists, philosophers, bakers, jazz musicians, writers and the oldest food market in the city, it hopefully conjures up just a little of heady sweetness and decadence that were to be found there.

St Germain Cake

For the cake:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp St Germain (elderflower liqueur: you can use cordial if you prefer)
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 100g fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp flour

For the elderflower syrup:

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml St Germain
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar and lemon zest, to decorate

Allons-y!

The cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 inch deep cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add a quarter of the eggs, along with a tablespoon of the flour and beat well. Repeat with rest of the eggs, beating well in between.
  5. Add the rest of the flour in thirds, folding in lightly in between until it is just incorporated and no streaks are showing.
  6. Gently stir in the ground almonds, St Germain and lemon zest.
  7. Lightly toss the raspberries in flour (this’ll stop them all sinking to the bottom) and carefully stir them into the mixture. Add a splash of milk if the mixture needs loosening.
  8. Dollop into the tin, smooth over the top and bake for around 40-45 minutes, or until it’s golden and risen, and a skewer inserted (and held there for a few seconds) comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in its tin on a wire rack.

The syrup:

  1. Place the sugar, St Germain, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and reduce over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the consistency thickens. Be careful of the hot sugar.
  3. When the cake is out of the oven, prick holes all over the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup so that it soaks in.
  4. Lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes. Keep your eye on them, because they’ll catch quickly.
  5. Decorate with the almonds, a dusting of icing sugar, lemon zest and eat warm, with a café, a glass of pastis or if you’re feeling decadent, champagne.