Most tasks in life have either a sensible or a silly order in which to tackle them; let’s take the totally random example of baking:
Sensible order – ooh, that recipe looks nice; I’ll go out and buy the ingredients to make it
Silly order – ooh, that enormous jar of maraschino cherries is irresistible. I have to buy it...I’m sure I’ll find a recipe to use it somehow.
I was perusing my local market this week and came across the bargain groceries stall; most markets will have a similar stall selling stock that they’ve bought up cheap –it might be well known brands but with foreign labels, or orders that fell through and the manufacturer just wants rid. Anyway, long story short, I found myself in possession of a kilo jar of Belgian maraschino cherries (for £1.50 – bargain of the year or what?). I figured I’d either find a nice cake recipe or Christmas for Mr CC and I would be a cocktail-tastic blur!
For those of you unsure what a maraschino cherry actually is it’s that festively red cherry you will find floating about in your cocktail. It’s a sweetened, preserved cherry and I think when they’re candied they become glace cherries. I should also warn you that chopping up maraschino cherries is a terribly sad task – it feels like chopping up hundreds of tiny clown noses:
Without being too obviously so, I think this is a festive looking cake. It packs a great flavour, hardly surprising when you consider it contains a lot of cherries plus banana and walnuts. It’s also a plain cake, by which I mean it doesn’t need cream, buttercream or any other jazzy accompaniment.
If, like Mr CC, you’re not mad about bananas in cake but, like me, have an impulse-purchase jar of maraschino cherries you’d like to use you could do worse than make my Madeira cake recipe and simply add 250g of cherries to it! The recipe can be found here.
So, both cakes made and a whole jar of cherries emptied. Of course, what a truly crazy person would do is go back to the market stall and buy another jar....mwah hah hah ha!
300g maraschino cherries, plus 2 tablespoons of the syrup from the jar
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
110g light muscovado sugar, plus 2 tablespoons extra to sprinkle on top
3 ripe bananas
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
50g walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°C/Gas mark 4.
Line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking paper.
Drain the maraschino cherries, reserving 2 tablespoons of the syrup.
Cut the cherries into quarters and put to one side.
Beat together the butter and sugar until they are smooth and whipped.
Beat in the eggs and reserved syrup until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas – recipes always say to do it with a fork but I think it’s easiest to do this with your potato masher.
Stir in half the flour to the butter mix followed by half the bananas.
Add the remaining flour plus the baking powder, followed by the remaining bananas.
Stir in the chopped cherries and walnuts.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
Sprinkle the additional 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top and bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Mine took 1 hour 10 minutes.
Place the cake, still in the tin, on a wire rack until it is cool enough to handle and remove the tin. Then leave to cool completely on the wire rack. The cake will keep for several days in an airtight tin.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.Eat.