summer cherry cake
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Summers always tasted of cherries when I was a kid. Sun blazing July, a holiday cottage, me ensconced in a hammock with my two cousins; a huge paper bag of cherries between us, swinging gently and spitting the stones ahead, competing for who spat them further. The cherries were not washed (who would bother?), they occasionally housed little white grubby worms (pesticide free, you see) and they’d be dark and glossy crimson or pale yellow, almost white. It was bliss; it was summer.
I don’t eat them very often these days. I guess the childhood props are gone forever: hammocks for one are never around any more; or seem to be the posh free-standing kind. The white cherry variety has gone out of fashion, people probably thinking they just weren’t ripe. But above all I can’t really sit around on the patio spitting the stones out, can I? Or worse, have to subsequently sweep or pick them up. That’s like throwing a television out of the window and then having to go sweep up.
But I still love cherries in cakes and though you can use frozen blueberries and raspberries all year round, cherries do not freeze that well and so retain the summery, seasonal flavour. You need to stone them – a bit of a crime scene after that activity, the kitchen dripping crimson juice – and it can be done in a nifty way using the end of a closed safety pin.
This cake mix is pathetically simple – and fool proof every time. No mixer needed, it’s almost what the Americans call a ‘dump cake’. No effort, five minutes in the kitchen, fourty-five in the oven and the best taste of summer is there, back with me.
summer cherry cake
- 110g (½ cup) groundnut or rapeseed oil
- 200g (scant cup) sugar, plus 2 tbsp. for sprinkling
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 250g (2 cups) plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarb of soda
- 160ml or 170g (2/3 cup) buttermilk
- 250g (1½ cup) cherries
Butter and flour or line with parchment a square tin 20 x 20cm or similar. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.
Stone and halve the cherries. Mix the oil and sugar in a bowl, add the cinnamon. Add the flour and salt and the bicarb of soda and mix in – the mixture will resemble wet sand. Add the buttermilk and mix into smooth batter.
Pour it into the prepared tin and cover with the cherry halves, cut side down. Sprinkle with the 2 tbsp. of sugar and bake for 40 – 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the tin.