Cherries are a quintessential part of an Australian Christmas and to celebrate the bumper cherry harvest on the farm this year, I decided to tweak my Italian Baked Custard Cake recipe to create a wonderful alternative to the traditional Christmas plum pudding for family and friends to enjoy at the end of our festive meal this year.
This is a moist dessert full of flavour that is sure to please everyone be it to end the Christmas meal or for some other occasion.
Serves 8 to 10
Cake – Ingredients
400 grams fresh cherries (pitted)
50 grams sugar
150 millilitres custard (see below)
250 grams butter softened (plus a little extra for greasing the tray)
250 grams caster sugar
4 large eggs
250 grams self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract
icing sugar, for dusting
Custard – Ingredients
2½ cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence/extract
Custard recipe will make enough for the cake as well as for serving (approximately 1½ cups and 1 cup for serving).
1. Place the de-pitted cherries onto a lined baking tray. Sprinkle with 50 grams of sugar. Bake in a moderate oven at 180°C for 15 to 20 minutes until they softened and then allow them to cool – DO NOT Discard any of the liquid formed during the baking process.
2. To prepare the custard, whisk eggs, sugar and cornflour together to remove any lumps, then gradually add a little of the milk at a time to form a lump free liquid and finally add the vanilla. Transfer to a pot and gently heat on a stove top, stir constantly until the liquid thickens (approximately 7 minutes).
3. Once custard has thickened remove 1 cup and set aside for serving. Into the remaining custard add the butter and stir until the two are completely combined. (If necessary you can heat the mixture a little so any remaining lumps of solid butter melt).
4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until well combined and then gently add the custard/butter liquid, until a smooth batter forms.
It is important to allow the custard/butter mixture to cool a little before adding it to the egg and sugar mix … otherwise the mixture will cook the eggs.
5. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and vanilla to the liquid mixture, folding them through until they are well combined.
6. Grease a 22 cm, spring-form cake tin with a little butter and give the surface a light dusting of flour to prevent the cake from sticking.
7. Place some of the cake mixture into the cake tin and dot the surface with a third of the roasted cherries and some of the liquid. Cover the cherries placed in the tin with more of the cake mixture and again dot the surface with more cherries and cooking syrup. Then pour all the remaining cake mix into the baking tray and finish it off by scattering all remaining cherries and cooking syrup onto the upper surface of the cake.
8. Place into a pre-heated oven at 180° C and bake for 40 minutes, then cover with aluminium foil and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the cake is cooked. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
If you use a smaller size cake tin you will need to cook the cake longer. Similarly if you use a wider cake tin the cake will cook faster.
9. The cake should be allowed to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before it is removed. Then cut into wedges, serve with spoonfuls of warm custard and a generous dusting of icing sugar.
To reheat the custard set aside earlier, either place in a microwave oven for 1 minute or alternatively heat in a bowl over a pot of boiling water, stirring it regularly to remove all lumps.