Cherry and almond cake with Opies cocktail cherries

I was recently asked to try some maraschino flavour cocktail cherries from Opies. I’m not a big fan of things like cherries in cocktails, as I think they just make it harder to drink the drink! However, I was sure that this little jar of prettily-coloured cherries would be useful, and I decided to use them in a cherry and almond cake.

Maraschino flavour cocktail cherries by Opies

Image (c) Opies

First of all I had to look up what ‘maraschino’ actual meant – the name stems from the Marasca cherry originally, but has come to mean a sweetened, preserved cherry. These cherries taste of almonds, which gave me the idea to use them in a cake. I used my great grandmother’s recipe, which I’ve been making for years – I normally use glace cherries and thought these would make a nice change.

Cherry and almond cake ingredients

You’ll need:

  • 225g butter or margarine, softened
  • 125g self raising flour, plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 225g sugar
  • 1 225g jar of Opies cocktail cherries

First of all I drained the cherries and rinsed them to remove the sugar syrup. I’d normally add a few drops of almond flavouring to this recipe, but decided to leave that out as the cherries were already almond-y.

What to do:

Rolling the cherries in flour

Grease a 25cm square cake tin and line the sides with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add in the eggs. Beat until combined. Add in the 125g of flour and the ground almonds, and mix to combine.

How to make cherry and almond cake

Mixing the cherries in

Put the remaining flour onto a plate, and roll the cherries in it. This is a trick my great grandmother always used to stop the cherries sinking to the bottom of the cake, and when I later checked on the Opies website it gave the same advice.

Cherry and almond cake waiting to be baked

Waiting to go into the oven (or AGA, in my case!)

Mix in the cherries, making sure they’re evenly spread throughout the batter. Spoon the batter into the tin, knocking the tin gently on the worktop to release any air bubbles.

Delicious homemade Cherry and almond cake recipe by Sara WalkerPut it in the oven, and bake for around 40 minutes. Keep an eye on it as the top may cook more quickly than the middle – if it’s getting too brown on top, cover it with a piece of foil or greaseproof paper. When it’s ready, a skewer inserted into the thickest part of the cake should come out cleanly.

Cherry and almond cake recipe by Sara Walker

Slightly too well done on top, but otherwise delicious!

Leave your cooked cherry and almond cake sitting in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out and removing the paper. The cake is great for morning coffee or afternoon tea, plus as a bonus it freezes well as too.

I really liked using cocktail cherries for this recipe – it was moister than usual and the almond flavour was just right. I’d definitely do this again, although I didn’t take my own advice and my cake did indeed get a bit too brown on top – sorry Opies!

Opies cocktail cherries are widely available at supermarkets, priced at around £1.50 for a 225g jar.

Love baking? Check out more recipe ideas such as our raspberry chocolate and almond muffins, llama biscuits or madeleines.

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