This is an old fashioned family favourite that remains ever popular. It is an essential recipe for every baker’s repertoire. There is nothing better with a cup of tea in the evening with its crunchy crust and delicious buttery inside studded with sweet pops of cherry.
200g red glace cherries
175g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
1 tsp almond extract
200g self raising flour + 1tbsp
1 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
2 tbsp milk
Flaked almonds for the top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180℃/160°Fan/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 900g/2 lb loaf tin. This also works well in a square or round tin if you prefer. Prepare the cherries by first quartering them and then rinsing them in a sieve to remove any excess syrup. Using a paper towel pat them dry as best as possible. Toss them in 1tbsp of flour. All of these steps will help prevent them from sinking too much during baking. Some level of sinkage is inevitable in a cherry cake so don’t panic if it happens to you, it will still taste great!
Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar together on high for about two minutes until pale and creamy. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the eggs one at a time. Then add the almond extract and lemon zest. Working in parts, sieve and then fold in the flour gently until it is fully combined. Toss about two-thirds of the prepared cherries in the ground almonds and then fold these along with the milk into the mixture. Pour this into the prepared tin. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the level the loaf. Lay the remaining cherries on top and gently poke them just under the surface. This should ensure you will have some fruit near the top of your loaf. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top at this point if you are using them. Bake in the oven for about 30 mins until golden brown on top, then cover with foil to stop it browning too much and bake for a further 30-40 mins until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. The cooking time will vary depending on what shape tin you use. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 mins before transferring onto a wire rack to cool fully. This cake freezes well so it’s a good recipe to double up and make two at a time. It will last for a week if kept in an airtight container.