Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cherry. Almond. Cake.

Next week, I'm going to make cherry spoon sweet even though S is complaining. He doesn't like spoon sweets. They're too dainty for him.
I'm going to make it anyway. There are friends in need out there, friends who have never tasted Greek spoon sweets before and they really deserve a nice treat.

I'm planning on making a salad with dark red cherries. I can't wait. Perhaps tomorrow, for lunch. I'll let you know how it went.

But today, I made this cake. Cherry. Almond. Cake.

I could have stopped right here. Mention nothing else. I would be content with just that because I'm certain that those of you who share my love for cherries, already know that this cake is special.

Simple, as simple as a cake can get, with cherries drowning in the batter, releasing their sweet juices, filling up every corner of my house with their aroma.

Almonds, tucked all the way in the back of my fridge in a small jar, were waiting patiently to be used. They were indeed used today.
I stole some from the jar and snacked on them while I was preparing the cake. Baking makes me hungry.

Cherry. Almond. Cake.

It is everything you imagine a cherry cake to be. Spongy, fluffy and moistened by the sweet cherries, the almonds giving a slight crunch and a nutty vibe to it all.
It's sweet, but not the kind of sweetness that lingers and makes you thirsty for water no, it's the kind of sweetness that makes you ask for one more piece.
You know you can handle one more piece.

Dark Cherry and Almond Cake
Slightly adapted from Diana Henry

It is best if you grind the almonds yourself rather than buying them pre-ground. They'll be so much more aromatic and fresh. Make sure you don't grind them for too long though otherwise they will start releasing their oil and you may end up with almond butter. You should grind them until they start to resemble coarse semolina.

Make sure to choose some sweet, juicy, flavorful cherries if you want your cake to actually taste of cherries. Bland cherries don't work in any dessert.

The original recipe calls for the use of a round springform baking pan (20 cm) but I used a wide rectangular pan because I wanted a different presentation. If you want to use a round pan or if you have a smaller pan than mine, you will need to bake the cake for a longer time. Don't use a larger pan because that would be too big. In any case, the cake is ready when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
You should also keep in mind that the thickness of the pan matters when you're baking any cake. You can have totally different baking times depending on how thick your baking pan is.

Yield: 1 cake / 8-10 pieces

500 g fresh, dark sweet cherries
115 g unsalted butter, plus a little more for greasing the pan
2 large eggs
150 g caster sugar
175 g all-purpose flour
75 g blanched almonds, freshly ground
1½ tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon

A handful of blanched flaked almonds
A little icing sugar, to dust

Special equipment: food processor for grinding the almonds, cherry pitter (optional), stand mixer or hand-held mixer, baking pan (31 x 25 cm), baking paper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and allow it to cool.

Take 450 g of the cherries and using a cherry pitter (or in any other way you know how), pit them and place them in a bowl. Make sure there are no pits left, you don't want to break your teeth!
Keep the rest 50 g (7-8 cherries) of cherries intact, preferably with their stalks still attached. You will add them later on top of the cake.

Prepare your baking pan by greasing the bottom and the sides with a little butter. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of baking paper and grease it again.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl), add the eggs and the sugar and beat them with the 'paddle' attachment (or with a hand-held mixer) on medium-high speed, until they become pale in color, fluffy in texture and have doubled in volume.
Add the melted and cooled butter and beat for 10 seconds on medium speed until it is incorporated.
Add the flour, the ground almonds, the baking powder, the salt, the vanilla extract and the lemon zest and fold them in with a spatula until incorporated.
Add the pitted cherries and mix them in, being careful not to break them up. Mix only until combined and not more!

Pour the batter in your baking pan and even it out on top with a spatula.
Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake the cake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the 50 g of intact cherries that you reserved earlier on top of the cake, followed by the flaked almonds. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Note: Let me mention again that if you're using a smaller pan, the baking time will be longer, 55-60 minutes in total if you're using a 20 cm round pan, so you'll need to add the whole cherries and flaked almonds a little later. They only need 8-10 minutes in the oven.

Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool slightly.
You can serve the cake either warm or cold. It's delicious either way but I prefer it warm.
Remove it from the pan, cut it into square pieces, dust the top with icing sugar and serve.

You can keep it, covered, at room temperature, for a couple of days.


  1. Oh how I love cakes like these! Cherries are plentiful now here in Lebanon and this is going to make my next baking project!

  2. WHen we left for the weekend, I almost threw out some beautiful dark cherries thinking they might not make it. But something kept me from tossing them - I must have felt your post coming! THis looks so simple and good, and I need a dessert to take to work tomorrow! ~ David

  3. With abundant juicy cherries now in season, who could resist this simple yet splendid cake?

  4. It's simply beautiful!! Cherries are something to be so thankful for.

  5. Joumana — I hope you enjoy it!

    David — I'm glad you didn't throw them away, you'll get to try this. It's simple but oh so delicious!

    Myriam — :)

    Nancy — no one, I guess. :)

    Nicole — I'm thankful alright!

  6. I think I may already have mentioned this, but I love cherries so much I rarely manage to cook with them, I just eat them straight out of the bag until they are finished. This week end I finally managed to make something with them, but not sure when that will happen again.

  7. The cherry almond cake looks great. I'm definitely looking forward to the spoon treats too. I've never had them!

  8. Nuts about food — I know how you feel. I love eating them straight out of the bag myself but this year I'm trying all sorts of things with cherries. Hope you get to try this; it's easy and so delicious. The kids will love it!

    El — spoon sweets are like preserves. I'm sure you have tasted that! :)

  9. This is the type of cake I really love. And of course, who doesn't love cherries? :)

  10. Cherries, cherries, cherries...everywhere I turn. Tis the season and I am so happy. Your recipe is perfect for these red beauties. Thanks

  11. Hi Magda, I am new to your blog. Hopped in from Pola M's blog. This cherry cake looks so nice and moist. I have never baked anything with cherries, but time I started. I currently live in the UK and we have cherries in bloom here...I am so glad that I came to your blog :-)

  12. Beautiful cake Magda! Greek spoon sweets are so underestimated, but they do taste deliciously! Can't wait to see yours!

  13. Such a simple concept that would yeild such a high level of happiness. Cherry. Almond.Cake.: 3 very beautiful things coming together!

  14. Greetings from Melbourne, Australia!

    Your cake looks very delicious! Being a great fan of cherries, I can't wait for the cherry season to arrive... Meanwhile, I will drool looking at your cake pictures while waiting for summer to arrive :p

    Your blog is great and here I am being your latest follower :D