Bake

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Food -

PUNNETS of cher­ries are good value in my lo­cal fruit and veg­etable shop at this time of year. I have been us­ing them in many dif­fer­ent ways and pre­serv­ing them for use later in the year.

There is a recipe here for a choco­late lay­ered sponge that is quite like a Black For­est gateau but much lighter. I used a sim­ple sponge cake recipe and sub­sti­tuted some co­coa pow­der in­stead of the flour. The co­coa I use is a very rich pow­der from Val­rhona, it adds a depth of flavour and does not af­fect the sweet­ness of the cake as there is no su­gar added to it. The trick, as al­ways with a sponge cake, is to whip the eggs and su­gar un­til they are re­ally light and fluffy and then to take care with those pre­cious bub­bles when fold­ing in the rest of the in­gre­di­ents.

I also de­cided to dry out some of the cher­ries, they had the con­sis­tency of sul­tanas af­ter I kept them in the oven on a very low heat for about three hours. They are lovely added to cook­ies or stirred into some gra­nola. Sim­ply pit the cher­ries and spread the halves on a bak­ing tray. Al­low them to dry out in an oven at 150C.

You can also pre­serve cher­ries in al­co­hol. Fill a large, clean jam­jar with the cher­ries and add a half a ta­ble­spoon of su­gar. Fill the jar up with vodka, tap it on a counter to get rid of any bub­bles, then seal it with a tight-fit­ting lid. Set it aside and use the liq­uid as you wish or add the cher­ries to cock­tails.

Mak­ing a con­serve or soft jam with cher­ries pre­serves the taste of sum­mer through the win­ter months. It can be used in­stead of the stewed cher­ries in a choco­late cake or sim­ply spread on but­tered toast.

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