This is a cake that I adapted from a recipe that I found in delicious. magazine. I made the original a couple of months ago but didn’t care for the icing at all. I decided I wanted to nail a cake with cherry and almond flavours, that featured white chocolate, but it couldn’t be cloying or heavy.
I also had various visions of how the final cake would be decorated. But I think I made it too fussy and old fashioned on this occasion and would definitely scale back a bit next time. But I thought it would be helpful to include the process to show that it usually takes a few attempts to get to where you want to be.
150g of Plain Flour
50g of Ground Almonds
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
300g of Caster Sugar
5 Medium Eggs, separated
1/2 Teaspoon of Cream of Tartar
2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Almond Extract
115g of Vegetable Oil
250g of good Cherry Jam
Syrup ( if you don’t want to use alcohol you could make it all water and sugar)
70g of Sugar
30g of Water
40g of Kirsch
White Chocolate Cream
450 of Double Cream
180g of White Chocolate
90g of Icing Sugar
30g of Freeze Dried Cherries or Freeze Dried Cherry Powder
150g of White Chocolate
Before you start baking it is a good idea to make your white chocolate bark or shards for the sides of the cake. I didn’t execute mine especially well the first time: I didn’t temper the chocolate (naughty Frances!) and left it too thick.
Melt the 150g of white chocolate (temper it if you can) and spread it out thinly on some sheets of greaseproof paper, then carefully roll it up around a cardboard tube. Allow to cool then pop it in the fridge or freezer.
Now for the cake:
- Grease and line two 8″ deep sided sandwich pans. Preheat the oven to 170C (or 150C fan).
- Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and stir through the ground almonds and 200g of the caster sugar.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until foamy, add the cream of tartar, then whisk until soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 100g of caster sugar as if you are making meringue.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until creamy, then add the vanilla and almond extracts and the oil. Mix well.
- Add the egg yolk mix to the dry mix. It will be a thick paste like above.
- Add a heaped spoonful of the egg white mixture to loosen the egg yolk mixture (which is very stiff) then fold in the rest of the egg whites.
- Divide the mixture between the two baking pans and bake for 30-35 mins until risen, golden and firm.
- Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from their pans and cool completely. They will sink a little in the middle, so don’t worry.
Make the Kirsch syrup whilst the cakes are cooling.
- Put the sugar, water and kirsch in a saucepan on a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.
- When the cakes have completely cooled, level their tops and pour the syrup over both of them.
Now make the White Chocolate Cream.
- Carefully melt the white chocolate in a bain marie.
- Sieve the icing sugar into the double cream and whip until very soft peaks.
- Pour the melted white chocolate into the whipped double cream and whip again. Be very careful not to over whip. You want firm peaks but not dry or split.
Spread the cherry jam over one of the cakes, followed by a good layer (about 1cm thick) of the icing. Place the other cake on top, cut side down. Now cover the cake gently (to avoid getting crumbs through the icing) and evenly all over.
If using freeze dried cherry pieces, put them in a food processor and whizz up until they are like dust. Sprinkle this through a sieve on the top of the cake.
Unwrap the cold or frozen white chocolate. It will break into shards. Press the sides into the side of the cake until it is covered.
As you can see from my top photograph, I piped icing and placed fresh cherries on the cake. Next time, I will leave it with the freeze dried cherries and white chocolate shards, but you can choose whatever way you want to decorate, and I appreciate that you may not want to order some freeze dried cherries for a one off. You may not even want to bother with the white chocolate on the side (or buy some ready made white chocolate shavings.) If so, don’t worry, you will still get the chocolate flavour through the white chocolate cream. The cake would also look beautiful with just the icing and a few piped rosettes and fresh cherries. Or if you wanted some crunch, some slivers of almonds pressed around the sides would also be delicious and pretty.
Keep the cake cool until you are ready to serve because of the fresh cream, but it will still be enjoyable after a night in the fridge if it doesn’t all get eaten on the day it’s made.