Is there anything more Christmassy than the sweet smell of toasted almonds and cherries wafting through the house? It’s an aroma that transports me to my happy place. Were it a fragrance I could wear as perfume, I’d purchase bottles by the dozen. However, standing in front of the oven will have to do for now.
If you love all things cherry bakewell, marzipan or frangipane, this is the cake for you. It’s a light and airy vegan sponge with nothing more than a dusting of icing sugar and a crown of fresh cherries. No buttercream, no fuss.
Serve it with masala chai for a hint of spice and all the cosy vibes.
My sponge is made with super fine self-raising cake flour, ground almonds and a little bit of cornflour to hold everything together without eggs. Almond milk, apple cider vinegar and almond oil give it lift and moisture.
I’m a sucker for a glacé cherry and I think they work wonderfully in this recipe. Fresh cherries will also work but bear in mind they will seep juice as they bake and this could make the sponge a bit soggy. I recommend baking this cake a day in advance. The flavours and textures get better after 24 hours. You might find it a little claggy if you eat it straight away and the almond flavour won’t be as prominent.
I wrap the cake in cling film or non-stick foil as soon as it comes out of the oven (let it sit in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn it out and wrap). This keeps the outside of the cake nice and soft.
- 340 g extra-fine self-raising cake flour
- 300 g caster sugar
- 40 g ground almonds
- 30 g cornflour
- 1/4 tsp fine salt
- 480 ml almond milk room temperature
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 180 ml almond oil or any flavourless oil of your choice
- 60 g glacé cherries chopped and tossed in 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp flaked almonds to decorate
- 80 g fresh cherries to decorate
- 2 tsp icing sugar to decorate
- Gold leaf to decorate (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F. Grease and line a 20cm round x 7cm deep/8-inch round x 3-inch deep cake tin with oil and baking parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, cornflour, sugar and salt.
- In a separate jug or glass, mix together the milk, almond extract and apple cider vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes, undisturbed. After 5 minutes, add the oil and give it a brief whisk.
- Add the oil and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and gently whisk for 40-60 seconds until smooth. Don’t over beat the cake batter. Fold in the glace cherries.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes until risen, golden and springy to the touch. You can insert a skewer into the centre to check if it comes out clean - if it does, the cake is done. If the skewer still has wet batter on it, it need a little longer in the oven.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and invert the cake onto a wire rack. Allow to cool. Top with cherries and dust with icing sugar before slicing and serving.
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