My Dad recently was courageous enough to drive for five hours just to see his beloved eldest daughter (me). We tend to do a bit of exploration of the local area when he comes to visit, since I've only lived here for a year and he had never been until he came to see me here for the first time. This time we decided to go and explore the Sandringham estate and Hunstanton (one of the closest beaches), hoping that the forecast rain would not materialise.
Sandringham, for those who don't know, is an estate owned by the Royal family and advertised as "the Norfolk retreat of HM The Queen". One of the things I like most about the scenery is that the backdrop to the estate is a large pine forest. A while ago I wouldn't have thought much of this, but in the depths of Cambridgeshire where farmland and irrigation dominate the landscape, trees are hard to come by and it is rather refreshing to be surrounded by forest.
To be honest, we didn't spend a lot of time at Sandringham and didn't go into the official estate and gardens because of the eye-wateringly high entry fees. Instead, we drove to the coast. I'd not been to the seaside in the UK for well over a year, so despite the ominous dark clouds and high winds it was refreshing to see the North Sea and inhale the salty-seaweed smell that you only find on the beach. We were only on the beach for five minutes before we were treated to a heavy downpour and an unwanted shower. We quickly retreated back to the car before driving further inland, away from the rain.
Towards the end of the day I suggested we go and pick some blackberries. I had been really surprised to find ripe berries in July, but nobody at work was very surprised so it must be common in East Anglia; in Devon, where I grew up, we were lucky to see them before September. On the way to my blackberry spot we were treated to another downpour and headed to some trees for shelter. As we got closer I noticed some fruit hanging from the nearest tree, and as we looked more closely we saw we were surrounded by trees laden with fruit.
We weren't entirely clear on the exact species of fruit we were picking/eating, but we identified several types of plum and some wild cherries that were a yellow-red colour. I was especially excited to find the cherries because they are so expensive to buy, and here they were, practically on my doorstep, for free. We took as much as we could, and the next day I came back for more. The plums were on the small side so when it came to dividing up the species it was tricky at times to decide if they were plums or cherries, but I don't think it really matters too much.
I'm pretty pleased with this cake, and have naturally found excuses to eat it for breakfast as well as at other times of day. You can of course use store-bought cherries, or even another stone fruit if it suits you better. Hulling the cherries was rather laborious, but unless you enjoy risking your teeth with every mouthful I can't see another way around it. If you don't fancy the whisky, just leave it out.
- 300g Cherries
- 200g Plain Flour
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Baking Powder
- 200g Butter
- 3 Eggs
- 50mL Whisky
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan and line a springform tin with baking parchment.
- Hull and halve the cherries. You can drain any excess juice and add it with the whisky at the end of the recipe, if you like.
- Put the cherries in a mixing bowl and stir in the flour, making sure all the cherries are covered.
- Add the caster sugar and baking powder and stir well.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, then pour into the cherry mixture.
- Add the eggs to the mixture, followed by the whisky.
- Use a spoon to break the egg yolks, then fold the ingredients together until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the springform tin. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out without any batter on it and the top springs back when gently pressed down.
- Serve warm with custard or ice cream; equally delicious served cold.