Can you use all day to make a cake?
Since the moment that it appeared on my Instagram feed, I have been dreaming about how I was going to make the cherry, pistachio, almond and coconut cake from Honey & Co.
It has been one of the nicer thoughts to enter my brain in the past week. At the end of my weekly exercise class with my East London NHS colleagues, we discussed what we were going to do for the rest of the weekend and it occurred to me that it was time to leave the banana bread alone for a week and explore something new.
After spending a fraught morning organising my personal affairs, I sat down with a cup of tea in and wrote out the ingredient list and method for this recipe that I found online. I have not bought the recipe book yet, but my birthday is next month – just saying…
The only ingredients that I did not have were mahleb (an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb (the Mahaleb or St Lucie cherry) and cherries. They were easily obtained from the International Supermarket on my high street. I also bought I bag of Iranian pistachios because I wanted to top up my supply. So that was part one completed. I had a very late lunch with Ignacio (a delicious spaghetti bolangnese) and sat down to shell the pistachios while continuing my affair with ‘The Affair’ on Amazon. I’m up to season 3 and it seems I am addicted…
Part 2 completed, the pistachio nuts were ready for the next phase. The recipe calls for ground pistachio nuts in the cake mixture and chopped nuts sprinkled on the top. It feel a bit time consuming, I’m not sure why these you cannot buy these versions of the pistachio nuts in the stores. However, the truth be told, for me shelling the pistachio nuts, crushing and chopping them was not onerous at all and in fact was therapeutic in its own way. I loved it!
Part 3, the cherries. So the recipe describes a beautiful way of removing the stones from the cherries.
Remove the stones from the cherries – you can do this with a cherry stoner or by just pulling them apart and popping the stones out with your fingers. I like to do this over the cake tine, so that any juice drips onto the cake and adds colour.Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer – Honey & Co
I did not until that moment know that cherry stoners were even a thing and it felt too disorganised for me to have the cake mixture ready and then do the cherry de-stoning. I have gotten into the habit of getting all the ingredients ready and then start with the actually cooking. So I removed the stones over a bowl and let the juice drip into that bowl. The juice stained my fingers, hands and the chopping board where I temporarily place them but it was a visual feast to behold.
The cake itself is ridiculously easy to make. Mix all the dry ingredients, pour over the melted butter and add the eggs. The fun part was dropping in the cherries, sprinkling over the sugar (I actually only used half the amount) and finally sprinkling over the chopped pistachios. I had read a number of reviews in the afternoon on peoples’ thoughts and experiences while making the cake and what had come through was that the cake, for some at least, took longer than the specified 40 minutes or so to cook completely. It was therefore not a surprise when I took it out at the allocated time and it was still under done. So I covered it in foil and placed it back in for another 30 minutes.
It was perfect when it came out. I actually finished baking after midnight but Ignacio and I were still up watching ‘The Expanse’ (another addictive Amazon series). The reviews suggested leaving the cake to cool for an hour in the tin, so I did just that, the smell driving us both a bit wild with anticipation.
And of course when it was done, like most things, it was well worth the wait.
So at silly o’clock in the morning, Ignacio and I shared this warm and comforting slice of cake. Sweet, slight edge of tartness, moist, soft, juicy, crumbly, utterly utterly delicious, heaven on a plate.
Yup, we slept well after that.
100g sugar, plus 20g for the topping
90g light brown sugar
180g ground almonds
30g ground pistachios
45g desiccated coconut
50g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground mahleb
150g butter, melted
50g roughly chopped pistachios, for the topping
A pinch of salt
Makes a 22cm diameter ring cake
- Make sure top oven is set at 200ºC. Lightly grease a 9-inch diameter ring cake tin with butter.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour over the melted butter and mix in the eggs. Spoon the batter into the pre-greased tin and smooth down.
- Remove the stones from the cherries — you can do this with a cherry pitter or by just pulling them apart and popping the stones out with your fingers. Do over the cake tin to catch the juice drips and add colour. Drop the pitted cherries onto the batter and sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining 1½ tbsp of sugar and the roughly chopped pistachios. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25–30 minutes, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 8–10 minutes, until the cake between the cherries goes all golden.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin, as it needs time to settle, then gently remove by running a knife around the edges. Covered well, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week, but for the best flavour, allow it to return to room temperature before eating.