chocolate walnut and sour cherry cake
This recipe is easy and delicious, a festive cake from Eva's Granny’s cook book, which she found in the basement of her family home in Bratislava at the end of World War Two, after she returned from the concentration camp.
This cookbook is one of Eva's main links to her past, and this cake was Eva's grandmother's favourite. It's the cake that Eva has baked for all her grandchildren's birthdays.
It's especially good because the sour cherries balance the chocolate, and cut the cake’s sweet richness. It is also gluten free, and suitable for Passover.
In Czechoslovakia, they picked the sour cherries off the tree. In Australia, Eva buys them, imported from Europe. The best ones, she says, are in a jar, not a tin. Sometimes, when she can’t find sour cherries, she uses tinned pineapple instead!
200 gram / 7 oz butter
200 gram / 7 oz sugar
200 gram / 7oz dark chocolate, melted
7 eggs, large best
200 gram / 7 oz grated walnuts or almonds - both work well
400 g jar of pitted sour cherries, drained
This cake always works well. The main unknown is whether the egg whites will consent to be whipped up into firm peaks – which is what gives the cake its airiness. Once you've done that, it's almost foolproof!
1. Preheat oven to 325 F/ 180 C. Butter and flour a large rectangular tin 35 x 25 cm / 13 x 11 inches. Drain the juice from the cherries and leave in colander till you need them.
2. Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave. Let cool a little. Cream butter, egg-yolks and sugar, till light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate.
3. Whip egg whites to a stiff meringue. Sometimes adding ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar helps this process.
4. Carefully fold whites into the chocolate mixture, alternating with nuts.
5. Spoon chocolate mixture into baking tin, smooth it down.
7. Sprinkle cherries evenly over the cake mix.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Less if it’s fan forced; test by inserting a toothpick. It should come out dry, with a few crumbs sticking to it.
You can serve as is, cut into squares, or dress it up with a ganache for a special occasion. (200 g dark chocolate melted in the top of a double boiler, with 100 ml cream beaten into it.) It looks irresistible with sour cherries and pomegranate seeds piled on top of the ganache.
For a less glamorous occasion, like a picnic, or if you want to leave everyone to have a sweet taste rather than a whole piece of cake, tiny cup cakes are a great option! One batch of cake mix makes lots - more than 60. And you only need to bake for around 5 minutes. You don’t want them to be too dry. Remove as soon as you think they are done.