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Almond cake with cherry cream filling

June 12, 2013


Rich nutty sponge with a sweet cherry jam cream filling

Aside from the pressing need to use up the cherry glut I’m also hankering for a little bit of home, what better way to express this than in cake? This is essentially a flavoured Victoria sponge, then again any cake with two sponge layers and some kind of filling is a take on a Victoria sponge so I don’t feel too bad for bastardising the original.

I wanted to take a bit of influence from the Bakewell tart given that almonds marry so well with cherries, but something a bit lighter.

Cake ingredients*:

3 eggs

1 ½ cups of caster/fine sugar

2 ½ cups of self-raising flour

1 cup of ground almonds

1 ½ cup of margarine/baking fat


Filling ingredients:

1 cup of cherries- cut in half with the stones removed

1 ½ cups of jam sugar

½-1 cup of apple juice

1 cup of whipping cream

*Though I assured friends and family I would not assimilate too quickly and pick up a transatlantic twang I have however embraced the American measuring unit of cups… this is because I do not yet own any scales.

Method:

This cake is, as previously stated, a take on a Victoria sponge and therefor the method of making it is much the same as any regular sponge cake. Begin by creaming together the margarine and caster sugar until they are light and almost foamy to touch. In a mug or separate small bowl, beat your eggs together until they are well combined. Sift in a third of your flour to the main mixing bowl and sprinkle over a third of the almonds, to this splosh in a matching third of your beaten egg mixture. Gently fold the ingredients together until they are well combined then repeat until all of the flour, egg and almond mixture is added.

I baked my cake in a square tin about 20 cm square and 5 cm deep as I want to cut then up into individual squares or finger shaped cakes. You can bake the cake as a traditional Victoria in a round tin and serve it up whole though quite happily. Grease and line the tin with baking parchment then place in a preheated oven at 180c for about 25/30 mins, my cake baking timings are so based on look and feel that the length of time is really just a guide. When the cake is lightly golden on top and springy to a light touch in the middle your cake is ready. It can be further checked for readiness by inserting a skewer to the thickest part to check if the batter is fully cooked, though be wary with this particular cake as the addition of almonds make the finished cake very moist so don’t confuse the moisture with it being under baked.

Leave the cake to cool and make your filling.

Tumble your cherry halves into a small saucepan along with your sugar. Pour over the apple juice until the cherries are almost covered but you can see a few domes and edges sticking up here and there. Bring the mixture to vigorous boil- being VERY careful as hot syrup is not something you want on your bare skin! When the mixture has boiled for 5 minutes turn it down to a gentle simmer, you will see that the surface of the liquid has started to froth, the colour of which can be brown. Use a long handled spoon (to protect your hands) to skim off this froth and discard it, the froth will be the impurities in the juice and any little bits of dirt or dried skin on the cherries. It won’t harm or hurt you to leave the froth in but removing it make for a cleaner flavour and a nicer colour to the finished jam. Simmer the jam until the liquid has reduced so that it just covers the bottom of the pan and the cherries are very proud in the pan, the jam should be a rich, dark red and very shiny. To check that it is ready, blob a small teaspoon amount onto a cold plate and let it cool for a few minutes. Then (hover your finger above it first to check its cooled) run your finger through the blob, if your finger makes a clean path through the jam which stays clear- the jam doesn’t run to fill the gap your finger has made, then it is ready!

Leave the jam to cool- being terribly impatient I often pour it into a clean bowl and pop it in the fridge, whilst it cools you can whip up the cream, don’t add any sugar to the cream before whipping.

Cake and cream are not often thought of as any kind of good for the waist line, however in this instance my cake is particularly good for the upper arms. I discovered this as a tried to whip cream without a whisk, using two forks held back-to-back in one hand (which astonishingly did work- eventually) and a huge amount of ‘exercise-montage’ style grimacing. You, however, can make use of a whisk or even an electric beater should you have one- though I make no promises about the effectiveness of cake on upper arms claim should you deviate from my double fork method.

Once you have softly whipped cream and cooled jam, VERY gentle fold them together to create a nice rippled effect. The jam will sweeten the cream and you’ll end up with a gorgeous mess of cool cream with rivers of sweet jam running though it with the occasional chewy cherry hiding within.

How you fill the cake will depend on the size and shape you have chosen, if you are doing a simple large Victoria style sponge then split your cake lengthways so you end up with two thin cakes of the same size to create a sandwich. Then dollop in your cream, being careful not to over mix the rippled effect, pop your top cake on an you are done. If, like me, you decide on small dainty cakes then I would suggest cutting your cakes into the sizes you desire then splitting and filling them. A little more time consuming but it does mean you can adjust where you split the cake depending on where in the pan the section came from. I find the middle portions are always a bit higher and thus if the cake is split as a whole the middle portions end up with a skinny bottom and a fat top. It’s also a good idea to fill you cake individually rather than fill the large cake before dividing into smaller ones. The delicate cream doesn’t hold up well to the pressure of a knife and I fear you will end up with an empty cake and a lot of cream on your work surface.

Sprinkle with a little icing sugar if you so desire and serve up with a good old English cuppa.




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