6 July 2013

Cherry Stone Torta

You may be thinking (once again) that I'm a crazy person right now, but I will preface this post by telling you that there are no actual cherry stones in the final product.

In actual fact, the sour cream used in the cake recipe is steeped with the cherry stones overnight, extracting their nutty-cherry flavour so that we can enjoy it without breaking our teeth. This was inspired by the post on using fruit stones to flavour liquids, written by the wonderful Stella of BraveTart.

Originally I hadn't intended to make this cake look like an Italian torta, but I was using the grill in my oven prior to baking and apparently didn't leave enough time between the two because I ended up with two very flat, slightly scorched cakes. I definitely used baking powder, so this is the only reason I can think of for this outcome. Nevertheless, I was not deterred and used the majority of the cherry buttercream to sandwich the cake together, using a small amount around the edges so that I could just sprinkle the top with icing sugar.

I was sceptical about the flavour of the cherry stones coming through (despite using all of the stones from the 500g cherries used), since when I tasted the batter I couldn't taste any difference to normal, but in the baked cake the flavour comes though in a subtle but noticeable manner. You don't have to use cherry stones; the stones from nectarines, peaches or any fruit with a stone in the middle can be used, so this cake has a multitude of variations. One thing to note is that you need about eight peach stones (so probably more with cherry stones) per 550mL liquid for the flavour to come through, so plan your shopping accordingly.

I'll definitely make this cake again, though next time I hope the cakes rise better so I can try making a proper cake out of it. Next time I might use double cream instead of sour cream, though, because the sour cream separated into liquid and solids, which made straining it from the cherry stones very difficult. The cake lasts for about 3 days, so make sure you serve it to as many people as possible within this time! You can always make these Leftover Cookies with what's left...

For the cake
  • 500g Cherries
  • 300mL Sour Cream
  • 200g Butter
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
For the cherry buttercream
  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • 200g Butter (must be good quality - no low fat spread or margarine)
  • 60g Caster Sugar
  • 20g Icing Sugar (for decoration)
  • De-stalk and de-stone the cherries. Dispose of the stalks but retain everything else.
  • Place the cherry stones in a saucepan with the sour cream and bring to a simmer over a low heat.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before covering and placing in the fridge for at least 24 hours. 
  • After 24 hours have passed, return the pan to the heat and bring back to a simmering point. Sieve the cherry stones from the liquid (if the sour cream has separated into solids and liquid then try as best you can to separate the solids from the stones). The cherry stones can now either be disposed of or roasted as described here.
  • While the liquid cools, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line two 9" sandwich tins with baking parchment.
  • Cream the butter and sugar (for the cake) together until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the batter is smooth.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until well combined.
  • Fold the sour cream into the batter until smooth.
  • Divide the batter between the sandwich tins and bake in the oven for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • While the cakes are left to cool completely, make the buttercream. Use a food processor to blend the cherries (finely chop them if you don't have a food processor), then strain to remove any excess juice. Place to one side.
  • Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl over a pan of water - make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place over a medium heat and whisk the yolks until they start to steam and the sugar appears to have completely cooled.
  • Pour the yolks into a mixing bowl and whisk until pale and their volume has doubled.
  • Ensure the butter is at room temperature, then slice off small chunks at a time and slowly whisk it into the egg yolks. Gradually add all of the butter until you are left with a smooth buttercream that holds its shape.
  • Whisk the strained cherries into the buttercream.
  • Spread 2/3 of the buttercream over one of the cakes, then top with the second cake. Smooth the remainder of the buttercream around the outside of the cake, then dust the top with icing sugar.

Finally, I want to inform you of some good news - I've been hired! I'm moving to Cambridge to work for a food testing company the week after next. It was getting dangerously close to my graduation and the end of my tenancy to not have a job yet, so this came as quite the relief. Now all I need to do is find a house...


Did you try this recipe? Let me know what you think! Comments are always appreciated. Unless they are spam.