This is a recipe for the last of the cherries, when they're no longer at their peak, but you're not quite ready to say goodbye to them. That said, this cake, which is dense, moist and full of nutty flavour, is equally good with raspberries or blueberries. It's also easy to make and a great one to have in your repertoire.
250g cherries (about 200g after pitting), halved, plus 12 whole cherries to use as decoration
80g shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts
40g almond meal
100g self-raising flour
¼ tsp fine sea salt
160g unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
zest of 2 lemons, reserve juice for batter and glaze
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp almond extract (or vanilla essence)
For the lemon glaze
100g icing sugar, sifted
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan-forced (170C conventional). Grease and line the base and sides of a loaf tin (about 21cm x 11cm x 6cm) with baking paper and set aside.
2. Using a cherry pitter, remove the stones from the cherries, then slice in half or quarters if they are large. If you don't have a cherry pitter, use a small knife to slice the cherries in half, then remove the pit. Set aside for the time being.
3. Place the pistachios in the food processor and process until they're coarsely ground. Remove 1 tablespoon and set aside in a small bowl for sprinkling over the cake later. Blend the pistachios in the processor for another minute until they're finely ground. Add the almond meal to the pistachios in the food processor and process or pulse for another minute to make sure the nuts are very finely ground. Tip out into a medium bowl, then add the flour and salt, stirring to combine.
4. Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a cake mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and creamy (about 2 minutes. If you're using handheld electric beaters, this will take about 5 minutes).
5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then, on medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well between each addition and scrape down the bowl to make sure the batter is smooth and even. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients, then the lemon juice and almond (or vanilla) extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer, then gently fold in the cherries.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out
clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
7. When ready to serve, transfer the cake to a plate. Combine the icing sugar and lemon juice and mix to a smooth paste. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with the reserved chopped pistachios and decorate the top with the reserved 12 cherries.
This recipe was oiginally published in Good Weekend magazine
If you like this recipe, try Helen's lemon and raspberry loaf cake