Monday, 18 August 2014

Cherry, Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut Cake

I am still on a bit of a cherry crusade at the moment, using these beautiful little stone fruits in as many recipes as I can. When deciding how to use a particular ingredient in my cooking or baking, I think it is important that the essential characteristics of the particular ingredient shine through. Cherries have such a beautiful juicy flavour and this should be retained irrespective of the cooking technique or treatment they undergo.

My face seems permanently speckled with a fine spray of cherry juice these days; produced when I enthusiastically extract the stones with my cherry pitter but I’m not complaining because I absolutely love cherries and don’t think that I could ever tire of them.

This cake is so delicious and because of the inclusion of the ground hazelnuts and almonds, beautifully moist to eat. I had toyed with the idea of baking a chocolate sponge hazelnut cake and adding the cherries, but I am delighted that I instead opted to make a cake with little chocolate chunks running through it. In this way the individual flavours of all the ingredients really came through in their own right, yet really complemented each other.

Chocolate goes so well with cherries and both these ingredients bring out the best in hazelnuts. Baking the fresh cherries in the cake really enhanced their juiciness and made the cake totally addictive to eat. I would recommend eating this cake at room temperature, before the chocolate chunks harden. There is something so inviting about eating slightly melted chocolate in a warm cake… you feel like you are doing something completely self-indulgent, forbidden and completely naughty.

In some of the photos you will see that I have served the cake with a scoop of cherry sorbet. This was delicious with the warm cake and I would thoroughly recommend making it. I will post the recipe for that separately, as it is SO good and deserves a post in its own right. In the meantime, do have a go at baking this cake. It’s incredibly tasty and relatively easy to make.

Ingredients:

150g butter softened
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
150g self-raising flour, sifted
30g ground almonds
100g ground hazelnuts
100g dark chocolate cut into 1cm chunks
150g cherries, pitted
To finish:
2tblsp apricot jam
2tblsp water
 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160/Gas Mark 4. Line a 22cm cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and set aside.
2. Place the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together until light and fluffy. Gradually, add the eggs, making sure that they are well mixed in before adding more.
3. Add the flour and fold in using a large metal spoon. Next, add the ground almonds, ground hazelnuts and chocolate chunks and fold these in so that they are evenly dispersed.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a metal spoon. Finally press the cherries evenly into the top of the cake, but just enough so that most of each cherry is still visible. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until the cake is well risen, golden brown and a thin skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes while you make the apricot glaze.
To finish:
6. Place the apricot jam and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble for about 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Pass through a fine sieve so that and chunks of apricot are collected. These can be discarded. Use a pastry brush to brush the apricot glaze on top of the cake while it is still warm. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to finish cooling completely. the cake can also be served still slightly warm.
 
Serves 8-10.