Dan Lepard's cherry hazelnut upside-down pudding

Toasted almond madeira cake.
Toasted almond madeira cake. Photo: William Meppem

The methods we use to make many traditional baked goods, like simple butter cakes, change over time ­– and not always for the better. Life gets busier, methods become over-simplified and quality can be lost in the rush. The old technique I've used for this madeira cake and upside-down pudding is called the "flour batter" method, and gives a finer crumb. To do it, beat half the flour with the butter before adding the eggs. This causes the flour particles to separate slightly during baking and give the crumb a velvety texture that stays softer for longer. Try it on your favourite butter cake recipes, and see what you think.

Cherry hazelnut upside-down pudding

Bake this in an ovenproof skillet, as you would a tarte tatin​.
 

300g pitted cherries, fresh or bottled

125g cherry or plum preserve

200g hazelnuts, roasted and skinned

225g dark brown sugar

150g unsalted butter, softened

25ml brandy

75g creme fraiche or thick sour cream

25g cocoa

2 tsp vanilla extract

175g plain flour

3 eggs, 60g each

1 tsp baking powder

1. Get a metal ovenproof skillet, about 20cm in diameter, and place it on the hob. Place the fresh cherries in the pan, barely cover with water then simmer until the cherries are almost dry and coated in cherry syrup. If you have bottled cherries just add to the pan and cook until the bottling juice evaporates.

2. Add the cherry preserve, simmer until thick then remove from the heat.

3. Heat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).

4. Place the hazelnuts in a food processor with the sugar and grind finely. Tip these into a bowl, add the butter, brandy, creme fraiche, cocoa, vanilla and half the flour (measure it into another bowl then save the rest for later).

5. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture lightens a few shades and is light in texture.

6. Sift in the remaining flour and baking powder and fold through, then spoon mixture evenly over the cherries and bake for about 50 minutes until the middle is set. Leave to cool slightly before upturning onto a plate; serve with ice cream.

Serves 8
 

Toasted almond madeira cake

Subtle and delicate, perfect in the late afternoon served sliced with cherry preserve and creme fraiche on the side, and small glasses of madeira to wash it down.
 

100g flaked almonds

125g unsalted butter, softened

150g castor sugar

25ml madeira, marsala or sweet sherry

75g creme fraiche or thick sour cream

200g plain flour

3 eggs, 60g each

1 tsp baking powder

flaked almonds and demerara sugar to finish

1. Line a long deep loaf tin with non-stick paper, and heat the oven to 160C fan-forced (180C conventional).

2. Spread the flaked almonds on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes until golden, then leave to cool.

3. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth, then add the madeira, creme fraiche and roughly half the flour (measure it into another bowl then save the rest for later). Beat everything together for a few minutes with an electric mixer until light in colour and very smooth.

4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then mix the remaining flour with the baking powder and fold through the egg mixture. Fold in the almonds, then spoon the mixture into the tin. Sprinkle the top heavily with flaked almonds and demerara sugar then bake for about 60 to 70 minutes or until a skewer poked in comes out clean.

Serves 8