This time of year is just so good for kitchen spoils. So far this summer, we've picked strawberries from the garden, raspberries from the farm, and been given cherries from a friend's tree.
The cherries are sour which makes them a non-starter for eating then and there, juices dripping down our chins. Instead, we hatched plans. Last year, egged on by the kids, I made a cherry pie, all giddy at the prospect of something so authentically American, so culturally laden. They hated it. So the rest went into a Kilner jar of brandy and sugar, enjoyed when the months drew in and cold, dark evenings needed some pip-free pep.
This year, I had a hankering for a Bakewell. A quick internet scour found a few recipes, one of which made several individual-sized Bakewells that weighed in at a mighty 933 calories each. Nearly a thousand calories on a pie? I couldn't do it.
Instead, I adapted an old Italian recipe that uses half ground almonds, half flour, fruit and juice scattered on top, for a densely, fruity cake that's just the right side of sweet.
And such a feminine cake calls for pastel-coloured team mates. This summer tea party came together with a few classics – macarons, strawberries, Assam tea – as well as my favourite sweet sandwich, the strawberry and rose petal sarnie (recipe to come soon!).
With pretty treats to eat, the crockery just had to match. Introducing the Pastels range from Royal Doulton. Isn't it gorgeous? It's a new collection consisting of brightly coloured pieces in delicate block printing. I love how the soft blue herringbone co-ordinates with the brighter pieces and how casual yet classy this collection feels in use. Our favourite pieces are the tiny bowls, which are so handy and just the right size for the kids to use.
What do you think? Do you like the collection?
Sour cherry and almond cake
150g sour cherries, pitted
50 ml cherry juice
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
2 free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
Icing sugar, to finish
Combine the cherry juice with the 50g sugar in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened (around ten minutes) and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 175°C.
Butter a 20cm cake tin, dust with flour.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the caster sugar and beat together.
Mix in the almonds and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add baking powder and a pinch of salt to the flour. Mix until combined.
Scrape what will be a thick batter into the pan, smooth it down with a spatula until the surface is even.
Add the cherries to the cooled juice and stir well.
Place the cherries carefully on top of the cake batter. Push them down gently submerging a few, then fill in the spaces until you have used up all of the cherries.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake is nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool.
Carefully remove the cake from the tin and use a sieve to shake icing sugar over the cooled cake.
If you're quick, there may still be cherries around. If not, don't despair – a good jar of Maraschino cherries such as Luxardo should see you right. Eliminate the first two steps and go straight to arranging the cherries on top of the cake.
Oh, and if you're a fan of colourful interiors, you might like the new Instagram account I've started with my friend Fritha. Find and follow us – @thebrighthome.
Thanks to Royal Doulton for supplying this beautiful crockery.
All words, images and recipes are my own – Lottie Storey/Oyster & Pearl.
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