TORTA DI CILIEGA (CHERRY CAKE)
This cake is a lovely celebration of the first cherries of the season and a wonderful finish to a festive menu. Stone cherries by gently crushing them under a glass, or by splitting them with a sharp knife. You can make the cake the day before, then garnish it just before serving.
INGREDIENTS • 100g unsalted butter • 150g caster sugar • 4 large eggs, separated • 200g flour • 1 teaspoon baking powder • 1 tablespoon brandy (or cherry brandy if you can get it) • pinch salt • 700g fresh firm cherries, stoned, plus extra to serve • icing sugar and dark chocolate to garnish • mascarpone to serve
METHOD Butter and flour a 20cm springform cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the yolks, one by one, fully incorporating each before adding the next one. Also add a little of the flour after each yolk, to help prevent the mixture from curdling. Sift the remaining flour and baking powder together then fold into the yolk mix, along with the brandy.
Whisk egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Fold the whites through the yolk mixture.
Spoon batter into the tin, scattering in some of the cherries as you go. Sprinkle remaining cherries over the top then bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Once cool, turn out then decorate with sifted icing sugar and grated dark chocolate. Arrange the extra cherries around the cake then serve with mascarpone. Celia Harvey/cuisine