There is a story here. About my ever thoughtful friend, Sarah from Switzerland, sending me a surprise gift of a traditional, second-hand kouglof cake tin (or kougelhopf as it’s called on her side of the Rhine) and its arrival inspiring me to bake again. About a sweet summer memory I have of my first time ever picking real cherries from real cherry trees at Sarah’s parents’ house in a Swiss German village called Möhlin, some twelve years ago. About being ever so pleased by a country scene of cherry trees, cherry pickers and the abundance of cherries themselves, and all the possible ways to make use of them. About the current season and overflow of local cherries here in Australia, and men with their trucks and boxes full of this lush summer stone fruit, lining the side of roads all the way from the farm lands of Young, through to Canberra and over here to the South Coast. About simply knowing that despite the call for a traditional kouglof/kougelhopf recipe, I just had to make a cake, and cherries were the absolute fruit to put inside this cake tin.
The story would continue, about other bountiful summer produce currently growing within local bounds to us. Particularly the furry, mint coloured almonds, ever so photogenic and remarkable to watch as they slowly dry and split and offer their tough, stippled shell and their well-known edible insides. About my adoration for olive trees and branches in the summer time. Or any time. About adoring the taste of olive oil in sweets (reminiscing about the genius flavour that is olive oil ice-cream) and of knowing what olive oil does to the texture of cake. About the immediate need to combine all of these flavours and produce - cherries, almonds and olive oil - into a recipe to be baked in Sarah’s darling cake tin. And about my immediate need to share it.
There is certainly a story here, a much longer story. There always is. But sometimes you don’t need the whole story. You just need cake.
I can’t call this a traditional kouglof/kougelhopf recipe - because it isn’t. That would involve something about Marie Antoinette and the inclusion of yeast and raisins - and some almonds, too (that part is at least in there). Instead, this recipe is the non yeasted, fruit filled version, but still baked and in the shape of the kouglof tin. And it's delicious. Bursting with the seasons plumpest cherries, crumbly almond meal and robust and grassy olive oil (the more robust the better I say, especially for cake) all wrapped up in one of the most moist cake textures and flavourful combinations I have ever tasted. Especially when paired with a simple home made quick cherry jam to dollop on top. When you stumble onto making a cake this good, you simply have to skip the story and just share it. To pass it on, for or others to enjoy. The way that Sarah passed on this kougelhopf cake tin to me.
I hope that you can enjoy and share it too.
Here it is.
Cherry, Almond and Olive Oil Cake
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 1hr 15 minutes
total time: 1hr 25 minutes
250g / 2 cups all-purpose flour
100g / 1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
200g / 1 cup sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
240ml / 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
240ml / 1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
500g fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1. Heat oven to 180°C / 350°f. Thoroughly grease your cake tin – if you are using a cake mold or bundt tin, generously grease with olive oil then lightly coat with flour.
2. Mix together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, maple syrup, olive oil, buttermilk and eggs in a large bowl until just combined and smooth. Do not over mix.
3. Gently fold in the cherries.
4. Pour the batter into the pre-greased cake tin, until about 2/3 of the way up the side. Bake in a moderate oven at 180°C / 350°f for 1hr 15 mins or until deep golden brown or until a cake skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
5. Let the cake cool in the tin for no longer than 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Quick Cherry Jam
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
total time: 30 minutes
500g cherries, pitted and halved
2tbs lemon juice
350g / 1 ¾ cups sugar
1. Combine the cherries and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook, stirring once in a while, over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until cherries are wilted and completely soft.
2. Add the sugar and continue to cook and stir over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the jam to a serving bowl to dollop onto the cake, or store in a sterilised jar.
All photos taken at the THE COTTAGE Kangaroo Valley, a stunning country cottage retreat / boutique accommodation.
Hand modeling by the one and only Vicki. x