Cherry Almond cake

Oh for the days when you could pack the children off to a nearby forest with jam sandwiches and ginger beer for sustenance, only for them to return famished at dusk, to scoff drop-scones and cocoa before falling into bed to dream wonderous dreams of their adventure-filled day. How simple the meal plans, grocery shop and cooking would have been, not mention all that independent time to be had whilst they were up the Faraway tree somewhere or other.

I am of course, referring to the fantasy tales created by Enid Blyton – the ones that shaped my childhood from The Enchanted Wood through to The Secret Seven. I always longed to have midnight feasts of homemade chocolate cake and toffees in boarding schools, picnics of orange aid and macaroons in tree-houses or returning home to a ‘tremendous steamed pudding, with lashings of treacle’.

It seems another much respected writer of mine, Angela Mollard, has also been touched by Enid’s writing. Angela is equally fascinated with the food depicted in Blyton’s novels. She states, “It’s all “great slices of cherry cake”, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread and gingerbread described as “dark brown and sticky to eat”. Indeed, it’s a measure of Ms Blyton’s talent that she even makes “potted meat”, “tongue sandwiches” and “lashings of hard-boiled eggs” sound like lovely picnic fare.”

Upon reading that phrase “great slices of cherry cake”, I knew what would be coming out of my oven on the next available baking day….

And just so you know, this Cherry Almond cake really is scrumptious – with or without the lashings of ginger beer.

185g butter, room temperature, chopped
3/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs
2 cups SR flour
2 tbspn almond meal
1/4 cup milk
200g glace cherries

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease a loaf tin.
  2. Place all ingredients, EXCEPT cherries in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is smooth and changed in color. Stir in cherries.
  4. Spread mixture into tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  5. Cool and dust generously with icing sugar.

cherry cake and Secret Seven

Postscript: and being that this is the 100th post for Plain and Simple Blog, it seemed fitting to reference such a magical and prolific writer as Enid Blyton (some sources quote her published tales were in excess of 7500!) Since October last, this blog has catalogued one hundred examples of the plain and simple elements of living – Enid has certainly set the bar high.



Chocolate almond cookies

Done with shopping? Me too. The last of my gifts are coming from the peace and solitude of the kitchen, sans parking lots, harried faces and never-ending landfill.

These cookies epitomise pure cooking escapism – easy to prepare, high yielding and incredibly toothsome (love that word, it sounds like a descriptor that would horrify a dentist). Depending on how reasonably stocked your pantry is, you may not even need to leave the house to get your batches underway.

And just to give you that little extra bang for your baking buck, the mix can be rolled into half-size balls, for twice the output. Put a couple of choc chips on top as soon as they are lifted from the oven and you will end up with at least 30 of these:

chip-topped cookies

Start with the almond topped ones, or build on this mix and design your own.

125g softened butter
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup cocoa
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
almonds to decorate

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in flour and cocoa, then fold through chocolate chips. (The mix will be quite stiff)
  5. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place on greased baking trays. Flatten slightly with fingers.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked. Cool on a wire rack. (makes about 20)

Postscript: If you have some bags and left over tags, you’ve got something to hand to your colleagues or neighbours over the next few days.

cookie bags