Cherry and Almond Cake – an English teatime classic!
This Cherry and Almond Cake fills me with nostalgia! It is a homemade version of the shop-bought cake that I remember from my childhood and which made a regular appearance at teatime. Even if you don’t have similar memories, there is something particularly traditional about this cake. It is the kind of cake that you would expect to be served on a China plate by your grandmother in front of an open fire with a nice cup of Earl Grey tea.
I love the glossy red glace cherries which look beautiful and give the cake nuggets of juicy sweetness. They may be a bit retro but it’s that kind of cake. I try and use the natural dark red glace cherries rather than the bright red dyed ones.
The combination of cherry and almond flavours is a classic. Almond and cherry trees are both members of the Prunus family and have a strong flavour affinity. Other members of the Prunus family include plums, peaches and nectarines and all these fruit combine well with almonds. In fact, almond extract is often made from the stones of these fruit because they have a stronger almond taste than actual almonds!
This Cherry Tart recipe brings together luscious fresh cherries with a sweet frangipane filling, made with ground almonds, set in a crisp pastry case. Cherries and almonds are brilliant flavour companions.
Serve this tart either warm or at room temperature. You can have it as a dessert or pudding, possibly with some cream or ice cream. Alternatively, you can have it with coffee or afternoon tea. This flexibility makes it a brilliant addition to picnics. The fruity sweetness of the cherries supported by the more substantial almond filling is just want you want after a day in the fresh air!
You can use any kind of fresh, seasonal cherries for this Cherry Tart recipe. I particularly like using the dark red-purple cherries. Cherries come in all kinds of colours from yellow through to dark purple. If you are lucky enough to have access to more than one type, you could get really creative with the decoration.
As an alternative, you could try my Apricot Tart which has the same pastry and frangipane elements, just topped with a different fruit. This makes it very easy to double the ingredients for the pastry and frangipane and make both! If you have an over-supply of fresh cherries, you might also be interested in my Cherry Ice Cream.
I generally make my own pastry. I was a late learner when it came to pastry and for years used ready-made versions. However, a few years ago I decided I had to get to grips with pastry-making and discovered how easy it is. If you have the time to make your own pastry, it is really worth doing as the taste will be much better than anything you can buy in the shops. However, if you don’t have the time or inclination, you can make this recipe using ready-made pastry and it will still taste pretty good.
Whether you are making your own pastry or using ready-made, it is really important to bake the empty pastry case in the oven for 20 minutes before you add the filling (step 3). This sets the pastry and means that it is properly cooked so it will be crisp and delicious rather than soft and soggy.
You can use any kind of fresh cherries to make this recipe. You can use any kind of cherries to make this tart. However, make sure that they are sweet and full of flavour. The best way to check this is by eating one! The better the flavour of your cherries, the better the flavour of your tart. I used dark cherries but you you can use any colour, or a mix of colours, to make your tart.
I use kirsch, a cherry-based spirit, in the filling (step 4) but you can leave this out if you prefer.
A glaze of cherry jam makes your tart look beautiful and glossy. However, this step is not essential.
This luscious tart, made with fresh, seasonal cherries set in a frangipane base encased in crisp pastry, is fantastic eaten at room temperature so makes a great addition to picnics or cold buffets.
For the pastry:
275 g (10 oz) plain flour
125 g fat (4 oz) I use a mix of half butter and half Trex as I think this makes the lightest pastry)
A pinch of salt
A little water
For the filling:
140 g (5 oz) golden caster sugar
140 g (5 oz) ground almonds
140 g (5 oz) butter or non-dairy alternative
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional)
300 g (10 oz) fresh cherries
1 tablespoon cherry jam (optional)
Set your oven to 180 C, 350 F or Gas Mark 4.
Make the pastry. Put the flour in a bowl. Add the fat and combine – either by “rubbing in” by hand or processing – until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Season with salt. Add a little cold water (2-3 tbsp) and shape the mixture into a dough.
Roll out your pastry and use it to line a 19 cm quiche or flan dish. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven to allow the pastry to “set”. This will stop the filling making it soggy and make sure that the base is crisp and delicious.
To make the filling, put the sugar, ground almonds and butter in a bowl and beat using a food processer or hand blender until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and kirsch and continue to beat until incorporated into the mixture.
Spoon the filling into the pastry case and smooth down the top with a knife.
Wash the cherries. Cut each cherry in half and remove the stone.
Place the cherries, cut side down, on top of the filling.
Place the tart in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven. While the tart is still hot, use a pastry brush to add a thin coating of cherry jam on the top. This will make enhance the appearance of the tart by making the fruit look shiny and also add an extra boost of flavour.