Ground Rules

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Yesterday morning as I reached into my bag of cherries, my index fingertip was greeted by a dreadful, wet, squishiness that could only mean one thing: cherry season was over. In a desperate attempt to salvage the remaining cherries from those plagued with sickly brown craters, I quickly separated the good from the bad and ugly and refreshed the good ones under cold water.

And as much as I loved popping cherries into my mouth like munching on Mrs. Vickies salt and vinegar chips, I didn’t have it in me too demolish two cups out of obligation. With my soon-to-visit mother having recently uncovered her annually renewed passion for making preserves, I passed on the idea of a compote.

Now, having finished all of my exams, I had strange urge to purge and get rid of anything that reminded me of this past term. I couldn’t burn my books, of course, because I live in an apartment, and because textbooks these days are worth a rather considerable fortune. But I had all these odds and ends sitting around my pantry and fridge: random ends of butter, almonds, and oats, in particular. The last time I recall reaching for these was at four months ago, when the weather still nibbled at my nose slightly with its evening chill.

So, to celebrate the end of what seemed like an endless barrage of quizzes, papers, tests, and exams, I decided to – yes – continue down the path of productiveness and make a cake from scratch, and by that, I mean I milled the flours too.

and walk in love,

just as Christ also loved you

and gave Himself up for us,

an offering and a sacrifice to God

as a fragrant aroma.

Ephesians 5:2

Cherry Almond Crumb Cake
Cherry Almond Crumb Cake

For as long as I can remember, I’ve avoided the use of almond flour. I saw it as a fad, a way for companies to jack up the price of the same mass of product, much like the coconut flour and asparagus water type deal. Part of me still thinks that it is, especially when recipes religiously call for it in overwhelming amounts. I mean, seriously, going nuts over nuts isn’t exactly ‘healthy’ if that’s your goal. As they say, too much of a good thing is still just…too much. Part of me also secretly thinks I can do a better job at making flavour flours, in this case, almond and oat. The combination of homemade flours in this cake is what makes it impossibly light and airy. Another trick that you should pay attention to while making this cake? Make sure you beat the heck out of the butter-egg mixture with a stand mixer for the full 25 minutes, which also aerates the crumb.

Ingredients for the cherry almond crumb cake (serves 8):

  • 75 g softened butter
  • 30 g extra virgin olive oil
  • 85 g sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp Kirsch, optional
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 115 g sifted whole almond flour*
  • 115 g oat flour**
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds*
  • 2 tbsp coarse raw sugar
  1. To make the cherry almond cake, put the butter, olive oil, sugar, salt, and flavourings in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes until completely smooth and creamy.
  2. Add one egg and continue to beat on medium speed for 5 more minutes until the mixture is pale, silky, and fully emulsified.
  3. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, taking time to beat thoroughly until the mixture is fully emulsified before each addition and scraping the bowl from time to time with a spatula.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack placed in the center of the oven. Line a 9-inch cake tin with parchment paper.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond and oat flours, baking powder, and cardamom.
  6. Stop the mixer and add in half of the flour mixture. Beat on low until just incorporated, then dump in the rest of the flour. Beat on low until incorporated, then bring the speed up to as high as it will go without splashing liquid cake all up your walls for 5 seconds.
  7. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in half of the cherry halves. Scrape the batter into the cake tin and top with the remaining cherries.
  8. To make the almond crumb, stir together the ground almonds and raw sugar and sprinkle it over the cake.
  9. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden, the cherries have collapsed, and the cake is pulling away from the pan slightly. Cool completely, cover, and serve at room temperature the next day.

Enjoy!

*To make your own almond flour and ground almonds, place 3 cups of whole, raw, room temperature almonds in a dry food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse on high speed in short bursts at the start, scraping the sides of the bowl with a chopstick. As the nuts become more of a coarse meal, use longer pulses, still scraping the sides after each pulse. Stop as soon as you reach a fine meal consistency. Sift the almond meal in a few batches. The fine powder that manages to fall through the mesh is the almond flour, and what’s left in the mesh is the ground almonds. Store them separately in airtight bags either in the fridge for a month, of in the freezer for even longer.

**To make your own oat flour, place 2 cups rolled oats in your blender (or a smaller amount in your coffee or spice grinder). Blend to as fine as you can manage. I don’t need to sift the flour my Vitamix makes, but if your flour doesn’t come out looking like whole wheat flour, I suggest sifting it to get rid of the chunky bits. Of course, you can re-grind the chunky bits as many times as you’d like until they’re all fine enough to pass through the mesh.

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