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Comfort Food #15: Cherry Cake

 

This Comfort Food post is a little bit of a strange choice for me because although I love cake, I am not a fan of cherry cake because of the glacè cherries in it. But nonetheless it does bring back memories for me of my childhood Christmases – which makes me think that perhaps this post would have better suited to December – but watching Mary Berry show viewers how to make the perfect cherry cake has inspired me. So cherry cake it is!

 

Courtesy of RitaE @pixabay.com

 

A cherry cake is traditionally a sponge cake that contains halved or quartered (usually) red glace cherries, which is then topped with icing, flaked almonds and more glacè cherries. Even though a freshly baked cherry cake is not my idea of bliss due to the use of ghastly glacè cherries, they most definitely do take me back to childhood Christmases back in the 1980s. When my sister and I were younger – before we were joined by our two other siblings – Mum used to bake an array of baked goodies every Christmas. In fact she used to bake so much, there must have been more than enough for the entire neighbourhood! Of course one of these bakes included cherry cake which was one of Mum’s favourites.

 

 

Even though I’ve disliked glace cherries since I was a very young child, I did like Mum’s cakes, so I would always have a slice – and just picked out the cherries. But what was most memorable about these cakes was that, we always had a slice of cherry cake after we got home from midnight mass. So cherry cake – offending glace cherries or not – always bring back happy memories of Christmas, midnight mass, and Mum’s large-scale baking!

 

Courtesy of pixabay.com

 

But even though I have mixed feelings about cherry cake, I know that most people, like Mum, absolutely love it! It is a very old-fashioned, very traditional English cake which I’ve been told is usually linked to Easter, rather than Christmas. It’s a very versatile cake and fits the bill for just about everything: picnics, afternoon tea, lunch boxes, bake sales and it is the mainstay of traditional tearooms, not to mention one of the most popular cakes to be baked among the Women’s Institute. And although it may sound simple to make, quite often it isn’t as the cherries are notorious for sinking to the bottom of the cake. However people have their own methods for preventing this from happening. One of them being to rinse of the sticky syrup from the cherries before dusting them with flour. Delia Smith believes n mixing two-thirds of the cherries into the cake mixture before poking the remaining third through the top of the cake just before it goes into the oven.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do love cherries just not glace cherries. But I’m wondering if I can substitute the glace cherries in the cake for dried, fresh or tinned cherries. I’d definitely have no problems with eating it then! But despite my reservations regarding cherry cake, nothing can take away the fact that cherry cake is a very memorable part of my childhood and evokes memories of Christmases gone by…

So here’s a recipe for cherry cake from Mary Berry for a traditional cherry cake. Try it and enjoy!

 

Ingredients

200g/7oz glacé cherries
225g/8oz self-raising flour
175g/6oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
50g/1¾oz ground almonds
3 large free-range eggs
For the decoration
175g/6oz icing sugar
1 lemon, juice only
15g/½oz flaked almonds, toasted
5 glacé cherries, quartered

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Grease a 23cm/9in bundt tin or savarin mould with butter.
  3. Cut the cherries into quarters.
  4. Set aside five of the quartered cherries for the decoration later.
  5. Put the rest of the quartered cherries in a sieve and rinse under running water.
  6. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in two tablespoons of the flour.
  7. Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly.
  8. Lightly fold in the cherries.
  9. Turn into the prepared tin.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.
  12. For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste.
  13. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Nostalgia Tastes Like This!, Recipes

 

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Comfort Food #9: Summer Pudding

 

It’s summer and the supermarkets are full of seasonal fruit which make an appearance during the brief summer months before they disappear off supermarket shelves. Cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants… just perfect for a lovely summer pudding.

 

I think I was probably about five when I first came across a photograph of a delicious looking summer pudding in my mum’s The Cookery Year cookbook. At that age I was a very picky eater who wasn’t happy unless I was stuffing my face with an ample supply of chocolate. So how strange that I should be so enthralled by what is essentially a fruit pudding! I think it was the colours that did it. I was fascinated by the shock of magenta and gorgeous berry tones that made this dessert so appealing which contrasted with the crowning glory that was light, fluffy whipped cream.

 

Summer pudding is a popular, traditional British dessert although it’s origins are unclear. The earliest published summer pudding recipe was published in 1902 by S. Beaty-Pownall however this dessert could have existed since the nineteenth century. It is made by lining a deep dish with sliced white bread before being filled with assorted berries. It is then topped off with a final slice of bread, soaked in the juices of the soft fruit and left overnight before being turned out onto a plate.

 

It is unknown exactly who, why, when or where summer pudding was invented. One possibility is that it was a summer substitute for the heavy, stodgy suet puddings that were popular in winter during Victorian England.
It’s also possible that summer pudding could have been served in health farms where people went to be cleansed and aided in weight loss. Then there’s the belief that it was served in hospitals to the old and infirm as it was easy to digest. It’s beginnings may be shrouded in mystery but summer pudding is more than just an invalid’s dessert!

 

It is better to make this dessert with bread that is slightly stale as this helps the bread to retain a good non-mushy texture once the juice has soaked through. It is traditionally made using raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants though sometimes cherries, blueberries and any other soft fruit that is available can also be used so it’s a great way to take advantage of the fabulous fruit that’s in season – especially as it’s available for such a short time. It is then served with lashings of cream.

 

As with most well known dishes, different variations of this pudding exist. Any variety of soft fruit can be used. Some recipes call for brioche or pannetone to be used instead of white bread. There are recipes which ask for the berries to be stewed while others use raw fruit. There is also an autumnal version of this summer classic which includes pears and plums as well as berries.

 

A summer pudding definitely takes me back to my childhood when I was a kid poring over mum’s cook books – at a time when I could barely read! Unfortunately it wasn’t a dessert Mum ever made for us but we did eat quite a few shop bought ones. Believe me – they’re not as great a good old fashioned homemade pudding whipped up from scratch. And the great thing about a summer pudding is that as impressive looking (and tasting!) as it is, it’s so simple to make. And because it’s packed full of fruit, I don’t even think of it as a pudding but one portion of my five a day!

 

If you fancy whipping up a summer pudding for a new generation to try and making full use of our summer fruits – while we still have them – give this recipe by Gordon Ramsay a go. It tastes amazing!

INDIVIDUAL SUMMER PUDDINGS

 

Makes 8

INGREDIENTS:

1kg mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries and strawberries)
50g caster sugar
4 tbsp. Crème de Cassis (or water)
800g(approx.) loaf white bread, sliced
Extra berries to serve

METHOD:

  • Strip berries from their stalks and hull strawberries.
  • Toss berries  in a non-stick saucepan with sugar and Cassis or water.
  • Heat the pan until it starts to sizzle. Cook over a medium heat until the fruits start to bleed and soften.
  • Stir gently, then cool to room temperature.
  • Strain fruit through a plastic sieve into a non-metallic bowl until the juices stop dripping.
  • Have 8 cappuccino or tea cups (about 200ml) ready.
  • Using 2 cutters (approx. 10cm and 6cm, but check against the tops and bottoms of your cups), cut out 8 bread rounds of each size.
  • Cut the crusts off 8 more slices and slice in half. These strips should be approximately the same depth as the cups.
  • Dip the small rounds of bread into the reserved juices and press into the cups.
  • Dip the straight slices in the juice and press around the sides.
  • Spoon in the fruits, pressing down with the back of a spoon to firm.
  • Dip the last of the bread rounds into the juice; press down on top. Chill overnight.
  • When ready to serve, loosen bread tops with the tip of a table knife.
  • Hold a dessert plate over the pudding, then turn upside down, shaking well.
  • The puddings should slip out easily; if not, loosen the sides gently with the knife.
  • Pour any remaining juice over the tops of puddings.
  • Decorate with the remaining fruit; serve with pouring cream, clotted cream or mascarpone.

 

 

 
 

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