The waning of summer and the start of autumn is my favourite time on the farm and in the Country Cooking School garden. Seasonal fruits are abundant, and this gluten free cherry and almond cake is a delicious way to celebrate the change of seasons. Serve it with yoghurt and Lavender’s Green lemon curd and you have the perfect excuse to stop and have a cup of tea! As the cherry season finishes, swap them for fresh figs, feijoas, apples or quinces in this recipe, but keep the toasty, sugary almonds on top.

Cherry & Almond Cake

110g soft butter
3⁄4 cup sugar
4 medium eggs
11⁄2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large lemon, zest only
3⁄4 cup gluten free flour
1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder Pinch of salt
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved

For the top of the cake:
1⁄2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of fresh cherries (whole)
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla essence and the lemon zest. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder over the mixture and fold through gently with the ground almonds. Then fold through the cherries gently and pour into the prepared cake tin.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and the slivered almonds. Sprinkle over the surface of the cake before putting it into the oven.

Set the timer for 45 minutes and check with a skewer after this time to see if the cake is cooked. If the skewer comes out clean when poked into the middle of the cake, remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin.

To serve, pile the fresh cherries on top of the cake and dust with icing sugar. Whipped cream or natural yoghurt and a large scoop of lemon curd are good on the side. The cake is best eaten on the day of making. Serves 8 – 10.

Cherry and almond cake

Lemon Curd

Make the famous Lavender’s Green lemon curd at home, easily and quickly in the microwave. This recipe makes four 250g jars.

460g sugar, vanilla flavoured
220g lemon juice
3 lemons, zested
125g butter
4 eggs, mixed well together with a stick blender

Sterilise the jars by washing in warm soapy water, rinse and put onto a tray and then into the oven, preheated to 120°C. Heat the jars for 25 minutes. Put the lids into a jug and cover them with boiling water for 10 minutes.

Put the sugar, butter, lemon juice and zest in a covered microwave bowl. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, blitz with the stick blender while you pour in the eggs. Return to the microwave and cook uncovered on high for 2 minutes. Please note you may have to adjust the final cooking time by a minute or two depending on how powerful your microwave is – mine is 1100 watts.

Lemon curd

Take the bowl out of the microwave and blitz again for 30 seconds. If necessary, return the bowl to the microwave for a further minute until the curd is thick, smells delicious and has large bubbles on the top. Pour the lemon curd into sterilised jars and seal immediately with sterilised lids. Label and date. The curd should last for 16 weeks on the shelf.

Recipes by Mary Biggs, Country Cooking School
Photography by Lucia Zanmonti