Saturday, March 22, 2014

Double cherry almond cake

Can you believe it's over 6 months since I last posted anything on this blog? It's amazing how quickly times flies - the truth is that while I've kind of missed posting new recipes, I've also felt some relief to be able to ignore the tyranny of the blog itself. (Kind of. Obviously, since I'm posting a recipe now, I've not exactly totally escaped the tyrant!) Anyway, my husband keeps saying that it would be a shame to shut down this blog, considering how many years I've been keeping it going. I guess that's true, too. 

So, I made this cake because Pete loves maraschino cherries. I'd bought a big bag of these in the run-up to Christmas 2013, and while I did use some in fruit cake and Christmas cake, I've also been half toying with the idea of throwing the remainder of the cherries away. It's their sticky sweetness that puts me off. 

Pete would have been happy if I'd used just those cherries in a cake, but that really did not appear to me one bit. So I compromised by using the maraschinos, but also added Kirsch-soaked Morello cherries (I thought I had some dried sour cherries, but turns out not) that were lurking in my dried fruits container. Again left over from last Christmas, but no complaints there. 

For some crunch, and because I like nuts in my cakes to cut through the sweetness, I used flaked almonds both in the cake batter and in the topping. Of course, since this was baked in a Bundt pan, the "topping" is really the "bottoming", to coin a phrase. Doesn't sound particularly graceful, but that's how it hangs, my friends. In other words, you sprinkle the almonds in the pan, pour the batter on top, bake the cake, invert the baked cake - and voila, the bottoming is now the much nicer topping!

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This cake smelt to me like a combination of sweet bread and cake all at once, while baking. No idea why, but it was lovely. The texture of the cake is moist and moreish, and the combination of the dark Morello cherries and the jewel-coloured maraschinos in every slice made the cake look beautiful!

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Recipe for: Double cherry almond cake

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1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup Quark (you can use cream cheese)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup maraschino cherries
1/2 cup kirsch-soaked Morello cherries (or plain dried Bing cherries)
4 eggs
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp flaked almonds


1. Butter and flour an 8" Bundt pan and knock off the excess flour. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp flaked almonds evenly on the bottom of the cake pan. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C. 

2. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, and set aside.

3. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light, then beat in the Quark and flavourings. 

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the flour until just combined. Stir in the maraschino and Morello cherries as well as the flaked almonds. 

5. Dollop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Tie or pin a wet towel around the cake pan. This helps the cake to rise evenly and not "dome" too quickly or crack. 

6. Bake the cake for about 70 minutes, testing with a skewer to see if it is done. If the top of the cake browns too quickly, cover it with a piece of foil. The cake is done when a tester or skewer poked into it comes out clean. 

Leave the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. Let ir cool for 15 minutes or so, then slice and serve.