Cherry, almond and chocolate drip cake with mini meringues
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚f/gas mark 4, then grease three 8indiameter cake tins with butter and line the bases with baking parchment.
In a mixing bowl—or, ideally, a stand mixer to make light work—cream the butter and sugar together to create a pale and fluffy mixture, then drop in the beaten eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Pour in the almond essence and mix again, before gently folding in the ground almonds and self-raising flour until just mixed. Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake for about 30–35 minutes—i suggest rotating the tins at half time and waiting until a fork comes out clean—then turn out onto wire racks to cool.
Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk and add the sugar just before the mixture begins to resemble stiff peaks. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe small, peaked circles onto a lined baking sheet. Bake the meringues for 45–50 minutes at 140˚C/275˚f/gas mark 1, then set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream icing by mixing together the icing sugar, cream cheese and butter and a little red food colouring if you want. Then, making sure to reserve a handful of whole cherries with which to decorate the top of the cake, stone and halve the rest of the fruit.
To assemble the cake, spoon some of the icing onto the first layer and scatter with a handful of chopped cherries. Repeat with the next layer, then place the final cake on top and spread buttercream, as evenly as possible, all over the entire cake with a palette knife. Refrigerate for a few hours (or overnight), before applying another layer of icing and returning it to the fridge.
To make the drip ganache, heat the cream to near boiling, then pour it into a deep bowl—over the broken pieces of white chocolate—and stir until melted. Remove your cake from the fridge and spoon evenly spaced amounts of icing around the top so it drizzles down the sides.
Finally, cover the top of the cake with more icing and decorate with fresh cherries, mini meringues and a few (insect-free!) flowers from your garden. Serve with copies of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.