nigel slater’s kitchen diaries is one of my favourite cookery books. it’s full of stories of foodie encounters of the most casual kind. whimsical cooking based on cravings and whatever happens to be in season or in the shop that he wanders into. i find this approach to cooking incredibly liberating and while i’m not lucky enough to be able to shop daily so i could truly indulge myself, i do enjoy standing, looking into the fridge and cupboards while thinking what we could eat.
unsurprisingly this process starts before i leave the house so that i have all day to think about different options. inevitably this can cause confusion and david regularly gets exasperated as i suggest one dish which he agrees to only for me to then add two or three other ideas into the mix.
however, when it came to this cake it was an easy decision. my mum is lucky enough to have a tree laden with cherries in her garden and was looking for ideas. this coupled with a visiting friend resulted in cherry and almond cake. mum, i hope you like it!
cherry and almond cake * (serves 8-10)
150g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
75g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
100g ground almonds
50g flaked almonds
preheat the oven to 180c. line a 20cm square tin with parchment paper. halve and destone the cherries.
in a food processor beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. put this mixture into a large bowl and sieve in the flour and baking powder then gently fold them into the mixture. add the ground almonds and half of the flaked almonds and fold them in too.
put your cake mixture into the lined cake tin and top with the cherries (don’t bother about arranging them carefully as they sink into the cake as it cooks). sprinkle with the remaining flaked almonds.
bake for 40-45 minutes, using a skewer to test it’s readiness (it should come out clean with no wet cake mixture sticking to it, it may have fruit juices on it though). leave to cool, in the tin, for 15 minutes.
i like to eat this cake when it’s still warm with some double cream or crème fraiche.
* this is based on a nigel slater recipe, from the kitchen diaries, for his “wonderfully moist, fresh plum cake” which is a favourite recipe of mine as you can use whatever fruit is in season to create variations. the use of flavourings like coconut and cocoa powder (as well as, or instead of, nuts) allow extra moments of creativity.