CHERRY AND ALMOND POUND CAKE
For this recipe, preferably use syrup-preserved Maraschino cherries of the Italian "Luxardo" brand, if available (see the picture below), as they are far superior in taste compared to the common brands of candied cherries most often found in stores.
100 g butter
100 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
a few drops or about ¼ tsp almond essence
100 g ground almonds
2 tbsp milk or cream
1 tbsp milk/cream and 1 tbsp cognac, Maraschino, amaretto, etc
100 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
(extremely small pinch of cinnamon)
about 100 - 120 g "Luxardo" Maraschino cherries (about 22 - 25 pieces)
Butter the sides and the bottom of a round springform pan (Ø about 18 - 19 centimetres). In addition, you may line the bottom of the pan with a circle of lightly buttered parchment paper.
Drain the cherries off their syrup, rinse rapidly with cold water and drain on paper towels. The rather large, heavy cherries tend to sink to the bottom of the pan during baking to diminish this effect, you can halve the cherries.
In picture on right: a jar of Italian Luxardo Maraschino cherries preserved in Marasca syrup.
Combine the flour and baking powder. Beat the softened butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Beat in the almond essence.
Stir in the ground almonds with the milk/cream and/or the alcohol. Stir in the flour and cherry mixture.
Pour the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing out the surface. Evenly divide the cherries or cherry halves on top, pressing them ever so slightly to the surface (they will sink further during baking).
Bake in the lower part of the oven at 170 °C for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the cakes comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for a few minutes before removing the springform pan, then place on a wire rack to cool down, and store in a cake tin. Serve the cake with coffee or tea.
Recipe source: adapted from "Torta di ciliege" by Annalisa Barbagli.