double decker cherry cake
Thu, 6 August, 2020
Cake, cherries, cake – no danger of the fruit dropping to the bottom of the sponge as this cake is lightly prebaked before cherries go on. Ingenious. Try your own variation with other stone fruit or berries.
Who enjoys pitting cherries?
Cherries are a chore if you want to use them in cooking: pitting them is a pretty loathsome job. Even if you have the specialist pitting tool which looks a little like an eyeball-gouger, the place is going to look like a serial killer’s residence.
And that’s with the common sweet cherries because morello or sour cherries are a different category entirely: Red Wedding or Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
How to pit cherries without a pitter?
A tip offering here: those eyeball pitters are pretty much rubbish as cherries do not regimentally grow to precisely the same shape and size, or have the stone positioned in geometrically perfect centre of the fruit.
My grandmother used a safety pin – and she of the jars and jars of cherry preserves each year – medium sized, insert the end and pop! comes the stone carried out neatly on the eye of the safety pin. Thingy. The looped end.
It's still worth it
Tools regardless, it’ll still be carnage, juice spray-wise. But – and finally we’re getting to the ‘but’ – it’s all worth it because cherries are just such a rewarding fruit.
They stay in shape, even pitted. They don’t release much juice or go floppy so you can use them raw in cakes with impunity. They look gorgeous: vibrant circles in the cross section of my cake? Yes please.
What are morello cherries?
An aside here on morello cherries – they are a different species. You don’t eat them raw, at least don’t enjoy the experience; they are sour and sometimes bitter. But for cooking and baking, there is no better. That was actually the variety that my Grandma used – she wouldn’t bother with sweet/dessert cherries, much too common for her taste.
Cherries are great in cakes
I use what there is, local and in season (as I’ve preached time and time again) so I’m not going to source morello cherries for my double-decker cake however fantastic they might have made the cake. Plain sweet – pitted – cherries are great too, especially that they won’t dissolve into jam after being lightly baked.
The best cake with stone fruit?
And lightly baked they are in this recipe – in fact everything is lightly or pre-baked for this cake. Make the batter, spread half at the bottom and blind bake it like it was a tart or a pie. Then the lightly baked fruit goes on – baked so it doesn’t release too much juice though I said cherries are well-behaved like that – followed by the rest of the batter. Twice baking the base won’t burn it in case you worried, it’s only done to seal it, like in blind baking. And there you have it – a double-decker cherry, with the vibrant burgundy-coloured fruit round and triumphant across the layers of the cake.
double decker cherry cakeServings: 16Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- For the filling:
- 800g (2 pounds) cherries
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- juice from ½ lemon
- 1 tbsp. plain flour
- For the cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 90g (scant ½ cup) caster sugar
- 70ml (4 tbsp.) groundnut or rapeseed oil
- 30ml (1 ½ tbsp.) milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g (½ cup plus 2 tbsp.) plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- For the icing:
- 140g (1 cup) icing sugar
- 1-2 tbsp. boiling water
1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas 8.
2. Wash and pit the cherries. Place them on a baking dish in a single layer, sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with lemon juice and leave to cool.
3. Turn the oven down to 175C (no fan if possible)/350F/gas 4. Line a round 23cm cake tin with parchment.
4. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with the balloon whisk attachment or a standard large bowl if using a hand-held mixer. Beat until tripled in volume, about 7 minutes at top speed.
5. Continue beating and pour in the oil at a thin steady stream. Pour in milk in the same way, beat in the vanilla extract.
6. Stir the baking powder into the flour and gently fold it into the egg mix with a spatula, taking care not to deflate.
7. Pour half the mix into the prepared tin (it will be about 260g). Bake for 15 minutes until set and coloured.
8. In the meantime remove the cherries from their baking dish with a slotted spoon into a bowl and toss them with the 1 tbsp. flour. If there’s any baking juice in the dish, save it and add to the icing.
9. Remove from the oven and spoon the cherries over the cake base in an even layer. Pour the rest of the cake batter over the cherries and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, remove from the oven and cool in the tin.
10. To make the icing, beat the icing sugar with the cherry juice and enough hot water to make it smooth and not too runny. Ice the cake and leave to set before cutting.