Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekend Herb Blogging #59

Weekend Herb Blogging travels to India this week where it's hosted by Nandita from Saffron Trail.

One of the things I love about November is that it's Cherry season and this year it's probably been one of the best I've experienced. So don't be too surprised to see a few recipes popping up here involving this gorgeous fruit

cherries© by haalo

Maybe it's so adored because it was a fruit you could play with - who can forget making those cherry earrings. Keep the diamonds, I'll take the cherries - even better, it's jewellery you can eat!

These cherries come from Taminick which is in northern Victoria (my home state) - and they have quite an unusual characteristic

cherries© by haalo

no - I'm not referring to the fact that they look a bit rude (you should see the photos I rejected!) - a large percentage of the batch were formed in this manner, two cherries per stalk - as Paalo suggested, an excellent way of doubling your crop. Whatever the reason, the cherries themselves were delightfully sweet.

Nutritionally, cherries contain Anthocyanin and Melatonin.

Anthocyanins are pigments, in this case the red pigment that give cherries their colour. They are strong antioxidants and cherry anthocyanins seem to reduce inflammation and pain.

Melatonin is also a strong antioxidant and also a form of hormone. It helps to boost the immune system.

Since cherries are so good for us, I've decided to use them into something that isn't quite as good for us.

I've modified the duck egg sponge cake to create a chocolate sponge. I've then filled it with poached cherries and whipped pure cream to create a sumptuous Sunday afternoon treat that's perfect for sharing.

Cherry Chocolate Sponge Cake© by Haalo

Cherry Chocolate Sponge Cake
[Makes 2x20cm/8inch diameter cakes]

Chocolate Sponge:
6 duck eggs
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour, sifted
25 grams/¼ cup cocoa, sifted
60 grams melted butter, cooled

Poached Cherries:
300 grams cherries, pitted
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup water

250ml pure cream, whipped
icing sugar, for dusting>

Make the poached cherries:
In a saucepan add the caster sugar and water and over a gentle heat stir until the sugar has just melted. Add the cherries, stir to coat and let this simmer until the cherries have softened and coloured the syrup. This should take about 15 minutes - you don't want the cherries to collapse. Let this cool before using.

Make the sponge:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Butter and flour two 20cm/8 inch shallow cake tins - line the bases with baking paper cut to size and this will make removal a lot easier.

I have used duck eggs but if you can't find them, normal chicken eggs will do. In case you're wondering how duck eggs look inside, wonder no longer

duck eggs© by haalo

Not sure if it's that clear in this photo, but the albumin is a lot more gelatinous and more tightly bound to the yolk then with normal chicken eggs.

Place the eggs and the sugar into the bowl of a mixer and beat until thick and fluffy and tripled in volume. This can take about 10 minutes.

While this is happening, triple sift the flour and cocoa together. It's important to get a homogenous mix here to avoid a streaky sponge.

When the eggs are ready, sift the flour/cocoa mixture into the bowl. Fold through using a metal spoon in a figure eight cutting motion. When it's almost totally incorporated, drizzle in the cooled melted butter and continue to fold until just mixed.

Divide the mixture evenly into the two cake tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the cakes are still springy to the touch.

Cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool.

Assemble the cake:

I'm a firm believer that if you are making something like this then you should use the best ingredients. I recommend using a pure cream, in this case I've used Elgaar Dairies Pure Cream - as I've mentioned before it doesn't contain any other ingredients other than the jersey cream itself, it's free of gums or thickeners.

Whip the cream when you're ready to assemble the cake - it needs to be firmly whipped.

Drain the cherries, reserving the syrup.

Place one cake on your serving platter - drizzle over with a little of the reserved syrup from the cherries then roughly smooth over half the whipped cream.
Top this with cherries.

cherry chocolate sponge cake© by haalo

Drizzle a little more syrup on the underside of the second layer and cover it with the rest of the cream. Position it on top of the cherries - press down slightly to get a level top.

Dust with icing sugar.

Store it covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

cherry chocolate sponge cake© by haalo

You can serve the cake as it, with some of the syrup as a garnish or even extra cream! Whichever way you decide I'm sure there will be room for seconds.


  1. This cake is so deliscious! Cherries are my fav as well! :)

  2. Thanks WP - I hope you're enjoying the cherry season so far.

  3. that looks sinfully delicious!
    And I'm quite jealous that you guys are having a good cherry season. We didn't have a good season..the late showers ruined the crop..and consequently the cherries this summer weren't good and too expensive too! :(

  4. I grew up every summer working in my Grandparents cherry orchard. I would eat cherries with everything if I could, I love them.

  5. Haalo, you and your delicious cherries. They look so juicy and sweet. Oh, my! :D

    Your cake looks terrific, too. I'm a cake maniac, sometimes I even sell some of the cakes I bake.
    This can certainly be a big hit!

  6. Looks absolutely delicouis! I will have to make this cake ASAP. Thanksgiving is coming up here in the US this Thursday and I think I will bring this for an after dinner treat to share with the family...

  7. Thanks Nabeela - that's a shame about the cherries - we're still waiting for the banana crops to come back after cyclone larry earlier this year.

    Brilynn - that would be absolutely fantastic, what a wonderful way to spend summer.

    Hi Patricia - they are irresistible cherries ;) You should do wonderfully well with this cake!

    Hi Victoria - that would a lovely way to help celebrate Thanksgiving!

  8. Haalo, your cake is absolutely superb!

  9. I am looking forward to lots of cherry posts - they are my favorite fruit.

  10. Thanks Robyn!

    Will do Sara!

  11. Really gorgeous. Your photos are just fantastic.

  12. chocolate and cherries. i can't think of anything better.

    this cake looks sooooooo good. now i know what to do with the bag of cherries in the fridge.

  13. Thanks so much Kalyn!

    Hi Anna - they are one of the great partnerships and difficult to resist.

  14. I am jealous! Our cherry season is not for way too many months! Your photos are awesome and the cake looks amazing.

    I definitely did the earring thing. I als remember the game my sister & brother & I played - who could eat the cherry leaving the pit attached to the stem. Obviously the winner was the one with the least amount of pulp attached.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  15. Thanks Ruth - cherry season is way too short and last year I pretty much missed it all together because I was in Europe. This year I'm making up for it! It's always good to look back at the fun times, amazing how many are food related.


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