Cherry, Coconut, and Almond Cake

As you may have noticed, I am all for huge decadent cakes covered in stuff. But sometimes, even I am looking for something a bit more low-key. The sort of thing that you can knock up in a spare half hour. The sort of thing that doesn’t involve stacking layers, or making any buttercream. This cherry, coconut, and almond cake is not at all needy or precious. It’s a very ‘throw it together’ sort of cake. It’s low-maintenance. Robust. And it’s delicious.


Something about the combination of coconut and the almond in this cake results in a beautifully moist and tender crumb. Studding it with fruit just makes it even more delicious. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and it will stay that way for a few days, kept at room temperature in an airtight container. It really does do a lot of heavy lifting, considering how easy it is to put together.


There’s also something comfortingly spring-like about this cake, even though it uses store cupboard ingredients. It’s a gentle hug of a cake, but its nutty fruitiness makes it light and promises of warmer days to come. You could imagine serving a cherry, coconut, and almond cake at Easter. Then again, as I write this it’s snowing heavily outside onto an already thick carpet of the stuff, so perhaps spring will never come anyway.



You can put whatever fruit you like in this, almost. I love it with cherries but it would also work well with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries…

I’ve suggested using canned or frozen cherries here, because they are stoned. I don’t have the patience for stoning cherries. And it’s not cherry season. But you do you.


Adapted from the delicious blueberry cake in the excellent Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.


200g butter, melted
180g ground almonds
70g dessicated coconut
250g caster sugar
80g self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g frozen or tinned cherries
30g flaked almonds

  1. Pop the butter on to melt. When it’s melted, set it aside to come to room temperature. Quarter your cherries. Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4.
  2. Put your ground almonds, coconut, caster sugar, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl and give them a quick stir to make it even. Beat your eggs together lightly in a measuring jug, then whisk in your melted butter and vanilla. Gradually pour this into the dry mix, beating all the while, until evenly combined. Fold in three quarters of the cherries and pour the mixture into your cake tin – you will have a very loose batter.
  3. Sprinkle the reserved cherries on top, followed by the flaked almonds. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until risen, golden, and passing the skewer test. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes before trying to get it out of the tin.

Black Cherry and Chocolate Tart

I was challenged by Canned Food UK to create a recipe using a canned food, and I’ve gone for something easy but completely delicious. Black cherry and chocolate tart just sounds good, right? I mean, cherries and chocolate are a classic match. Think black forest gateaux. The great thing about this cherry and chocolate tart, though, is that it’s actually really simple to make. Even though it looks pretty fancy.

Canned cherries are definitely your friend here. Cherries are one of my favourite fruits, and they come up on this blog a lot. While fresh cherries are amazing, they won’t always be in season and they are often expensive. Plus, using fresh cherries here would mean adding the extra step of stoning your fruit. And that isn’t going to be happening in a recipe that’s all about simplicity.


We’re also saving time and effort on the base. I love pastry, and I love making it, but I’m not going to lie – sometimes I just cannot be bothered. You could definitely make this cherry and chocolate tart with a traditional shortcrust or sweet pastry, but you don’t need to. As ever, biscuits are your friends. Biscuits will always be there for you. Biscuits won’t let you down.


So we’ve got a dark and chocolatey buttery biscuit base (any excuse). We’ve got a rich and smooth chocolate filling, just holding together and then melting away in the mouth. And we’ve got those plump black cherries, steeped in a decadent kirsch syrup.

I might go and make it again, actually.



You can add a few little flourishes to this chocolate and cherry tart. Or you can skip them entirely. It’s completely up to you. It’s beautiful plain, but if you feel inclined to finish it off with crème fraiche and almonds, it’s a little extra touch that makes this tart even more special.


1 can (425g) pitted black cherries
150ml kirsch (brandy or Grand Marnier also work well, or use juice from the can if you are avoiding alcohol)
30g caster sugar
Pared strip of lemon zest

For the base

30 Oreos (chocolate bourbon biscuits also work well)
50g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
50g butter
½ tsp sea salt

For the filling

300ml double cream
2 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp sea salt
50g butter, cubed
200g dark chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
50ml whole milk

To finish

A handful of whole almonds, finely chopped (optional)
Crème fraiche to serve (optional)


  1. Drain your cherries, then place them in a small saucepan with the kirsch, sugar, and lemon zest. Simmer for five minutes, then take off the heat and leave to sit while the flavours infuse.
  2. Pop your biscuits and chocolate for the tart base in the food processor, then give them a good blitz until you’re left with crumbs. Add the butter and salt, and blitz again until the mixture clumps. Press your biscuit mixture into the base of a non-stick, loose-bottomed tart tin of around 23cm diameter. Work the mixture up the sides of the tin, pressing it into the flutes with your fingers, and make sure the base of the tin is well covered and as smoothly lined as possible. Pop the tin in the fridge for the base to set.
  3. For the filling, put your cream, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Put your butter and dark chocolate in a glass bowl, then pour over the boiling cream mixture. Stir until smooth and blended – it might take a couple of minutes to come together, as the chocolate melts. Stir in the milk and keep stirring until the mixture is smooth and shiny.
  4. Drain your cherries, remove the lemon zest, then spread them across the base of your tart tin. Carefully pour the liquid chocolate mixture over the cherries. Pop your tart in the fridge for at least two hours to set. Finish with chopped almonds and serve with crème fraiche, if you like.



Cherry & Coconut Chocolate Tiffin

Tiffin is one of those things that seems so simple it barely warrants a recipe. I mean, really, what am I telling you to do here? Crush some biscuit, mix it up with some other bits and pieces, and cover it in chocolate. Hurrah, you have tiffin. You don’t need me to tell you how to do that. You can definitely do it all by yourself.

That said, the reason you are getting a recipe for tiffin today anyway is because I’d forgotten how delicious it is. Sometimes I get wrapped up in things like messing around caramelising white chocolate, or developing an apricot, hazelnut, and cardamon cake. Which is all well and good. But it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures. Tiffin is definitely a simple pleasure. And yet, somehow, I haven’t made it for years.


I actually remember the last time I made it very well: it was when I lived in my old flat and had just gotten together with James. We had friends over, I’d made tiffin, and I went to get a bottle of wine out of the fridge and the the shelf on the fridge door somehow broke. A glass bottle of tonic water fell out and shattered over my arm, and I still have the scar from where they had to pull a bit of glass out at minor injuries. Maybe I have subconsciously been avoiding tiffin since, due to traumatic associations.

Tiffin is, incidentally, one of James‘s favourite things. He nods and smiles politely when I produce some towering, massively over the top cake, but given that his other favourite thing is rocky road, I think he’d  secretly be happiest if I just kept it simple.



Obviously you can make any number of adjustments to this. Dark chocolate on top? White chocolate on top? Swirly marbled chocolate on top? All fine. Prefer hazelnuts to pistachios? Got some raisins but no cherries? Think coconut is the devil’s work? Make your own adventure. This is just a tiffin combination that I happen to like. Rich tea biscuits, digestives, and gingernuts also make excellent bases here, in case you don’t like Hobnobs (you’re wrong though, by the way).

I have used an 18cm round cake tin here, purely because I felt like cutting the tiffin into wedges. You could also use a 20cm square tin if you’d prefer tiffin squares or bars. Finally, you could double the recipe very easily and use a large traybake tin or well-lined roasting tin to feed a bigger group.


120g butter
60g golden syrup
25g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
225g Hobnobs/oat biscuits
70g dried cherries
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
50g dessicated coconut
200g milk chocolate


  1. Line a non-stick 18cm (or thereabouts) cake tin with baking parchment. Melt the butter, golden syrup, caster sugar, and cocoa powder together in a large saucepan over a gentle heat.
  2. While they’re melting, roughly crush your biscuits (either by putting them in a sandwich bag and bashing them, or blitzing them in the food processor) until you have a mixture of fine crumbs and some fairly big chunks.
  3. When your syrup mixture has melted to a glossy dark liquid and the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat. Mix in the crushed biscuits, then the cherries, pistachios, and coconut. Make sure everything is well combined.
  4. Spoon your mixture into your prepared cake tin and press it down in an even layer. Pop the tin in the fridge to chill while you melt the chocolate. Melt your chocolate either in the microwave on low heat or in a glass bowl over gently simmering water. Pour melted chocolate over the cooling base and give it all a shake so the chocolate is even, then put the whole thing back in the fridge to set for around 1 hour, or until the chocolate is firm.
  5. Cut, serve, try to resist eating whole thing at once by yourself.

Cherry and Almond Cupcakes

For me, the best part of a new school year was always just before it actually started. As a child, I loved buying new matching sets of multi-coloured stationery, writing my name carefully in block capitals on the spines of folders, and going on excursions to choose a new backpack. As a teenager, I’d always vow that this was the year I would keep all of my work in neat, chronological order, always start my homework the night I was assigned it rather than the night before it was due in, and somehow start having good hair. As a young adult, during the summer before I started university, I dutifully purchased all of the books on our sickeningly long reading list, with real and honest intentions of reading them before term started. Everything was always so full of promise.

To be honest, the best part was usually shopping for new things. It tended to go downhill after that.

The problem was that I always assumed that I could fundamentally change somehow. I knew that this year things would be different, and better, because I would be different, and better. The purchasing of new studying aids – be they pretty stationery or stacks of crisp new books – always represented a new beginning. It was a chance to wipe the slate clean. The gift of infinite possibility. The opportunity to be perfect. After all, I had the perfect pack of rainbow Sharpies – surely there couldn’t be much more to it than that?


Of course, I was never actually perfect, so always fell short of my own expectations. After a few days, weeks, or even months, my carefully structured timetables would always start to crumble, my reading plans would get neglected in favour of dossing about in the kitchen, and my notes would slide from neat cursive into a slapdash scrawl. It was always so much harder in reality than it had been in my imagination. And somehow, I never learned my lesson, and began each new term and each new year with boundless optimism, only to be crushed again by my own mediocrity. Or perhaps ‘mediocrity’ isn’t fair: I was normal, imperfect, and human. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I swore to anyone who would listen that I had finished, that I was done with studying, and that I would never change my mind, forever and ever, amen.

And now here I am, looking to buy a new backpack.


Yes, I know, I did a cupcake post mere days ago. I’m afraid there are many more where that came from too. What can I say? Cupcakes are quick to bake, easy to transport, customisable, and pretty. I make them a lot.

They have absolutely no connection to the ramble at the beginning of this post, except in that they are also ‘new beginnings’ cupcakes. I made them at the request of a lovely friend of mine who has just had a beautiful baby daughter.

Notes: I didn’t want to make a cherry and almond cupcake with weak flavours: I think cherry and almond are a great combination and so I have done my best to make each flavour bold and distinct.

You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the frosting here is actually two different colours swirled together. Part of the reason you can’t see this is because of the light when I was taking the photos, but part of it is that the colours weren’t massively distinctive because I wanted to create them naturally. If you want something bolder, add some red food colouring to your cherry buttercream.


for the cakes

150g butter
150g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
60g ground almonds
1 tbsp milk
jar of cherry jam

for the frosting

100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
4 tbsp cherry jam
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp almond extract

12 cherries
toasted flaked almonds


  1. Heat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4 and put paper cases in a twelve hole muffin tin. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the flour, eggs, baking powder, ground almonds, and milk, and blitz until smooth. Scoop the mixture into your cases and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden and risen. Leave to cool.
  2. When your cupcakes are cold, core them and pop about a teaspoon of cherry jam into the centre of each cake. Eat the cores. This is compulsory.
  3. For the frosting, beat the butter until soft and smooth. Sift the icing sugar and mix it in roughly with a spatula, then beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Divide the mixture in half. Flavour half with the cherry jam (add food colouring for a brighter colour), and half with the vanilla bean paste and almond extract. Fit a piping bag with a star nozzle. Push the cherry buttercream against one side of the bag and the almond against the opposite side, and then pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
  4. Top with a cherry and flaked almonds.

Perfect for taking in to school as a bribe.