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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.

 
2 Comments

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

 

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Farmhouse Kitchen: Comfort Food Television

 

My love of cookery shows goes back to when I was about five years old, thanks to my mum who was a huge fan of any program that showed you how and what to cook. She would watch every single one religiously and would sit there making notes. As a result, I developed an interest in them too.

My absolute favourite – of which I still have fond memories – is the iconic (in my opinion at least) Farmhouse Kitchen. This was a cookery series made by Yorkshire Television and broadcast by ITV during weekday afternoons. I used to watch it with Mum when I returned home from school. The show was aimed at housewives and homemakers and provided demonstrations of well-known, traditional British fare long before anyone had ever heard of sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and salted caramel.

 

Farmhouse Kitchen was first shown in 1971 and ran until 1989. It was originally  presented by Dorothy Sleightholme until her sad demise in a car accident. Grace Mulligan then took over as the show’s host. There were also occasionally  guest cooks which included Pauline Sykes and the queen of cakes herself, Mary Berry. Viewers were even invited to write in with their own recipes which were then (if selected) demonstrated for the viewing public.

If ever there was such a thing as comfort food television, then this would be it. No fuss, no frills, no obscure ingredients; just simple and inexpensive old-fashioned home cooking. There was something so warm and homely about Farmhouse Kitchen from the country style kitchen to the presenters to the very melodic theme tune. In fact every time I hear that theme tune, it takes me back… It contains a kind of nostalgic 1970s charm and was aptly called ‘Fruity Flute’ and was played by The Reg Wale Group.

 

I know that times change and nothing lasts forever but I can’t help but compare this legendary show to cooking programs today where the food and art of cooking sometimes takes second place to cultivating a celebrity image and television career for the chef. And let’s not even get started on the expletives used by certain unnamed chefs and celebrity cooks in a bid to look, I don’t know, cool? Because I don’t think cool, funny or entertaining when I hear it. Just get on with showing us how to cook!

It’s a shame that Farmhouse Kitchen isn’t repeated or that there’s anything that remotely resembles it but no doubt if there was the majority of viewers would consider it quaint and outdated – which I suppose goes to show that I like quaint and outdated! Books were available which accompanied the series and I would love to buy a copy.

Here’s that delightful theme tune (the theme had been revamped although judging by some of the comments I’ve read, it would appear that most people preferred the original.) I could listen to it all day and never tire of it. Bliss!

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Name That Tune!, TV Shows

 

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