Cherry and Almond Cake

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The lovely Deborah Madison, ex Chez Panisse chef and lover of great produce, once took me to buy cherries in Santa Fe’s glorious farmers’ market. My eyes, watering from the chilli fumes in the air, watched as seemingly endless Amtrak trains trundled past the marketplace on a journey with hundreds of miles between stations. Cherries purchased (I remember she had a particular favourite, the orange Royal Annes), she took me home for verbena lemonade and cherry cake. As American as the Fourth of July.

Ingredients

  • 110g/4oz unsalted butter, softened, plus a little for the tin
  • 150g/5oz plain flour, sifted, plus a little for the tin
  • 150g/5oz whole blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon Sea salt
  • 150g/5oz granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 450g/1lb fresh cherries, pitted
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter a 23cm/9 inch springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Flour the sides.

In a food processor (or by hand), coarsely chop the almonds — then take out about a quarter of them and set aside. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the processor and process until the remaining almonds are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl.

In a food processor (or by hand), cream the butter with the granulated sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, blending each one in fully before adding the next. Add the almond and vanilla extracts.

Add half the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse to blend. Then add the remaining flour mixture and pulse until smooth. Scrape into the prepared tin and place the cherries on top, in a single layer.

Mix the reserved almonds with 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and sprinkle around the edge of the cake. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Dust the top with icing sugar.