This week, Jamie Schler, food writer and author of the blog Life’s a Feast, shares the recipe of her Chocolate Spice Cake with Sour Black Cherries…
« I am a baker (my husband is the better cook; he is the cook, I am the baker!) and love baking for my three Frenchmen and I love nothing more than introducing them to American baked goods, the cookies, cakes, etc. I think my husband being such an adventurous cook has made me a more adventurous baker and I end up baking more with spices, liqueur and alcohol, and trying new things more often now. But our household is truly a mélange of French, American, Italian and Moroccan dishes just naturally. »
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) Bundt – can also be baked in layers or in a loaf pan but adjust baking time as needed.
– 7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– 1 cup (200 g) sugar
– 2 large eggs at room temperature
– 1 ¾ cup (230 g) flour
– 3 Tbs (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp cloves, optional
– ¼ tsp salt
– ¾ cup (scant 200 ml) milk
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 small jar sour black cherries (griottes) in syrup – or replace with my Rum Roasted Cherries* (recipe below) – cherries and juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) Bundt pan – (or two 9-inch layer cake pans or one loaf pan).
Place the softened butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes until thick, smooth and doubled in volume. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition to increase the volume of the batter.
Stir or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three additions, alternating with the milk in two, beginning and ending in dry, beating after each addition until well blended. Beat in the vanilla as well as 1 – 2 tablespoons of the cherry syrup.
If you want more of the cherries in the cake, simply fold 2 – 3 tablespoons of the drained cherries into the batter.
If using a Bundt pan, place a row of cherries – let the juice drip off back into the jar – around the bottom of the pan around the tube. Carefully ladle the batter into the pan on top of the cherries so the cherries aren’t pushed out of line. Scrape out the rest of the batter into the pan, gently smooth the top if needed and place in the preheated oven.
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes (Note: if using layer cake pans or a loaf pan and depending upon your oven, baking times may vary greatly, so begin checking the cake for doneness after 35 minutes.) The cake is done when a tester stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean – or cleanish, with no liquid batter.
Remove from the oven onto cooling racks and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before gently shaking the cake lose and turning it out of the baking pan and onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Slide the cake onto a serving platter, dust with a bit of cocoa powder and serve. For an elegant dessert, serve the cake with very lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream topped with more of the cherries and a drizzle of syrup.
* For the Rum Roasted Cherries:
– 30 plump, ripe unpitted cherries
– 2 tablespoons granulated brown sugar (cassonade)
– Pinch salt or fleur de sel
– 2 Tbs dark rum
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
Place the whole cherries – pitted or unpitted – in a small roasting pan and toss with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Place in the oven and roast until the cherries start to release their juices and the sugar melts and begins to caramelize. This will take about 10 minutes but watch the cherries very carefully, as the sugar may start to burn.
At the end of 10 minutes, remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the 2 tablespoons dark rum and toss until all of the sugar is moistened and the cherries are coated. Return the roasting pan to the oven for 5 more minutes. Watch very carefully to make sure that the sugar does not burn. Remove the roasting pan from the oven to a wooden board or cooling rack. Allow the cherries to rest until cool enough to handle. Remove the stems from all of the cherries except a few for decoration if desired. Pit all of the cherries (except the few still with their stems) over the roasting pan to catch any juices and discard the pits.
Place the roasting pan on the stove over a very very low flame and stir and toss, gently pressing the cherries with the back of a spoon or spatula just to release a bit more juice. Toss and cook gently but very quickly – only a minute or two – until the last of the sugar has melted and a thick, cherry red juice forms. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to either warm or room temperature.