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Hugh's fresh cherry cake with streusel topping

Available for only a few weeks of the year, delicious homegrown cherries are highly seasonal. What's more, these summer gems are as coveted by the blackbirds as they are by us. Anyone lucky enough to have a cropping cherry tree will have to pit themselves against these feathered foragers in order to gather in a harvest. Otherwise you ll need to keep a sharp eye out for them in farm shops, markets or your local greengrocer's. The crumbly, nutty streusel topping is a crunchy delight.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Start by making the streusel topping. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the ground almonds and caster sugar and stir to combine. Rub in the butter, using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside.

For the cake, in a mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or hand-held electric whisk, beat the butter to a cream. Add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating 1 tbsp of the flour with each, and beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next. Stir in the ground almonds and almond extract, if using. Sift in the remaining flour and fold in gently, using a large metal spoon.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing it out evenly and gently with the back of the spoon. Lay the cherries over the top of the mixture. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the cherries and then scatter the slivered almonds all over the top.

Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave for 10 minutes before releasing the tin and moving the cake to a wire rack to cool. This cake is delicious warm or cold, with custard (if serving warm) or clotted cream or Greek yoghurt. It will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight tin.

P.S. To help save the British cherry, visit www.foodloversbritain.com and look up their CherryAid campaign.

Serving suggestions

Variations

Plum and walnut cake: for the cake, replace the cherries with halved plums and the ground almonds with walnuts. For the topping, replace the ground almonds with porridge oats and the slivered almonds with chopped walnuts.

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Ingredients

For the cake

  • 125g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g self-raising white or wholemeal flour
  • 75g ground almonds (ready-ground or whizzed in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional but lovely if you like that extra almondy, frangipane taste)
  • 300g fresh cherries, stoned and halved

For the topping

  • 25g plain white or wholemeal flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 50g blanched almonds, slivered

Equipment

  • 20cm springform cake tin, lightly greased and base-lined with baking parchment

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Cakes Handbook

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