Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fresh Apricot & Cherry Upside-Down Cake

I absolutely adore fresh cherries and rejoice when they are in season and readily available to buy. I have been playing around with different recipes where cherries might be used and admit that most of my ideas have been variations on the clack forest gateau theme; in other words recipes that marry cherries with chocolate. It is so hard to deviate from this combination, because cherries and chocolate just taste so darn good together. However, in this recipe I have come up with what I think is another winning combination… Cherries and apricots. Going on the premise that Mother Nature is very wise and has arranged it so that foods that are in season at the same time, tend to have an inbuilt natural affinity for each other, I decided to see how cherries and apricots would taste together.
 
I chose to make an upside-down cake for my first experiment and I was delighted with how the cake turned out. Asides from looking very exotic with its stained-glass like exotic looking colours, it tasted absolutely fabulous. I used a fairly standard sponge cake base to which I added some ground almonds to keep everything moist and add a little body. I also added a good splash of Amaretto as I felt that its almond flavour would work well with the stone fruits. Amaretto is one liqueur that I always have around the place because it is so incredibly useful to the home cook and so much nicer to use than almond extracts or flavourings.
 
Preserved or bottled cherries are available to buy and these can be used in many recipes, but when fresh cherries are in season, I love to use them. One of my favourite recipes to make is cherry clafoutis – a sweet Yorkshire pudding-like batter in which cherries are baked. (I have previously given my recipe for this delightful dessert and it was one of the first that I blogged about). Preserved cherries work wonderfully in a clafoutis, but for this cake, You really do need to use fresh cherries.

As the cake bakes, the fruits soften and release some of their juices which caramelise slightly to give an added sweetness which is absolutely delicious. The apricots that I used were slightly tart but the sweetness of the cherries compensated for this and the overall taste was fabulous. In fact, I think it is because of this contrast between the two fruits that this works so well. I really do encourage you to try making it.
 
This cake is wonderful to eat as just a cake, but served still slightly warm, with some lightly whipped cream on the side, it would make a wonderful summer dessert.

Ingredients:

Topping:
50g butter, softened
50g soft brown sugar
6 Apricots, cut in half and stoned
150g cherries, pitted and cut in half
Cake:
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
135g self-raising flour, sifted
35g ground almonds
1tblsp Amaretto

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
Topping:
2. Grease the inside of a 20cm round spring-form tin with butter and sprinkle the sugar over the base. Arrange the apricots and cherries in the bottom of the tin with the cut-side in the butter and sugar mixture.
Cake:
3. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy, gradually beat in the eggs until they are well incorporated. Fold in the self-raising flour and the ground almonds. Finally mix through the Amaretto.
4. Spoon the cake batter over the apricots and cherries and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Place the cake tin on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes until well risen and a golden brown colour.

Serves 6-8.