Seductive spring sweets: Prue Leith

If you’re currently working from home, self-isolating, or just need a pick-me-up, baking can provide a great distraction. Grab your apron (or your peenie) and mix up some delectable recipes sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Prue Leith’s Bing cherry and almond cake

Our favourite GBBO judge, Prue Leith brings us her tantalising Bing cherry and almond cake, inspiration she found from former contestant, Val Stones. Bing cherries are particularly sweet and full-flavored, so Prue buys the dried ones online for this.

SERVES 12

INGREDIENTS

150g dried cherries, preferably Bing

40g ground almonds

270g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

115g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

210g caster sugar

3 medium eggs

ó tsp almond extract

190ml whole milk

120g chilled marzipan, coarsely grated

30g flaked almonds

1. Heat the oven to 160ºC/fan 14ºC/gas mark 3. Grease the sides of a deep 20cm (8in) round cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Put the cherries in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, set aside and leave to soak.

3. Spread the ground almonds out on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 3–4 minutes, or until just starting to colour. Be careful! They burn in a fl ash. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

4. Sift the fl our and baking powder together, then add the toasted ground almonds.

5. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently.

6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the almond extract.

7. Beat in half the flour and almond mixture, followed by half the milk.

8. Add the remaining fl our mixture, then the remaining milk. Beat only until everything is incorporated and there are no streaks of flour remaining.

9. Drain the water off the cherries, then squeeze and pat them dry. Cut the cherries up until they are the size of currants.

10. Add the chopped cherries to the cake batter along with the grated marzipan and stir to distribute them evenly. Transfer the mixture to the lined cake tin, then sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of it.

11. Bake in the middle of the oven for 60–70 minutes. Check it after 40 minutes, and if the top is browning too quickly, cover the cake loosely with foil for the remaining cooking time. When it is ready, it should be well risen and golden, and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. If it doesn’t, give it another 5 minutes in the oven.

12. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Find this recipe and more in The Vegetarian Kitchen, Prue Leith and Peta Leith. Bluebird Books for Life £25.

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