Amazing Cakes #25: Coconut Sugar Fruit Cake

I’ve been trying out recipes from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes recently. The book has a chapter brimming full of Free-From recipes which is really useful. So far I’ve made the Gluten Free Brownies, the Vegan Marble Bundt Cake and the Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake. To fit in with dietary requirements, lifestyles and allergy needs, it’s fantastic to have a collection of recipes to fall back on.

One of the recipes was a Coconut Sugar Fruit Loaf Cake. Although the recipe contains natural sugars in the form of dried fruit, it does not contain refined sugar. Coconut sugar is palm sugar produced from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm. I have used coconut sugar before, in a vegan cake and it is definitely more expensive to buy than your average refined sugar. It’s roughly about twice as much as the same weight of soft brown sugar. I bought The Groovy Food Company’s Coconut Sugar to bake this recipe.

To start making the cake, I soaked mixed dried fruit in some hot tea the night before. I left the bowl covered in cling film overnight.

The following day when I got in from work in my day job, I started on the cookie and brownie order I had for that afternoon. When they were finished, I kept the oven on and started to make the fruit loaf.

I put self raising flour, the coconut sugar, some ground ginger and mixed spice into my mixing bowl and stirred it before adding in two beaten eggs, I then added it into the dried fruit and tea mixture.

I then spooned the mixture into my loaf tin. I use ready made loaf tin liners as I’m dead lazy and any shortcuts you can have are a massive help. I’ve bought some more recently from Tesco and they’re a godsend.

The cake baked in the oven at 160oC (fan) for about 55 minutes. I tested it and it was still a bit sticky right in the middle, so I gave it another 10 minutes. This did the trick. When it came out of the oven I left it to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes.

Usually when I have fruit loaf, I spread it with a bit of butter and serve it the Yorkshire way with a slice of Wensleydale cheese. I was so hungry, I ate a slice straightaway without either. The result was a moist and delicious cake but without feeling overly sweet.

Would I bake it again? Yes I would although the coconut sugar does make it a rather expensive bake. You can only get two loaves out of one bag of sugar.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #23: Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf

It’s been a busy week here, not had much chance for actual baking as I’m getting my website ready for my online cookie business! All will be revealed by next week. I’m waiting for some new packaging to arrive so I can send out cookie samples to my taste testers. I’m also rethinking a couple of recipes so that they will leave my kitchen looking perfect.

I’m also a supply teacher working in primary schools in my area and work has been a bit quieter this week what with home learning for some and the pandemic issues. I have been grateful for this week being a bit quieter though as it has given me time to focus on jobs at home, my new business and to have some wintry walks out with my dog. On Wednesday afternoon, though I was wanting to bake something other than cookies. This is where my Big Book Of Amazing Cakes Challenge has been enjoyable and it’s nice to bake something different.

Looking through the book I wanted to make something quick, easy and that needed to use up ingredients I had at home. It was a toss up between the Pecan and Banana Loaf to use up very ripe bananas or the Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf. My daughter came downstairs to put the kettle on between her online uni lectures and said “Urgh no, not banana cake with nuts in!”, although it wouldn’t have had pecans in anyway. I didn’t have any in, only walnuts! She was really keen on the idea of the lemon cake as she loves lemon drizzle and although she is not fully vegan, she does have lactose intolerance.

So, the Vegan Lemon Drizzle it was! I have never made a Vegan Lemon cake before and oh my it was so worth it. It was different to some of the loaf cakes I have made before in that it came out with a flat top and not a curved one. To substitute butter and eggs, the replacements are with soya milk, apple cider vinegar and non-dairy spread. We use oat milk in our house so I hoped that would work as well. It did in the other vegan cake I baked recently, the Vegan Marble Bundt Cake. I nicked some of my daughter’s non-dairy spread and we were ready! This recipe is versatile because not only did it give quantities for the small loaf I baked but also for other size bakes including a square tin and a traybake size.

To start with I measured out the oat milk into a jug and mixed in a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar. This had to be left for a few minutes to curdle. It looked and smelled horribly sour!

In the meantime I creamed together some caster sugar ,the non dairy spread and the zest of a large lemon. I then added a spoonful of vanilla extract to it. Then the smelly oat milk mixture was added to the creamed mixture. This looked horrible and I was worried about the curdling effect. But as soon as I added self raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds to the mixture, this sorted the problem out. I kept the rest of the lemon aside as this was going to be used in the drizzle and the icing.

The loaf cake baked in the oven at about 160oC for just under an hour and came out after I poked a skewer in it. It came out clean so the cake came out and was put on a wire rack still in its tin to cool down. After a few minutes I made up a quick lemon sugar syrup which was poked into the cake with a cocktail stick. Usually when I make lemon drizzle cake that’s all I put on top of the cake and there’s more of it so it crystallises on the top. This was the case with the first recipe from my challenge the Lemon Drizzle Traybake. Instead, this recipe also has a fondant icing on top.

Later on, I mixed up some icing sugar and lemon juice and spread it carefully on top of the cake. As shown in the recipe picture it was designed to drip down the side and not to look perfect. If you wanted you could add some edible flowers and decorations. I had some jelly lemon slices but I’m not sure if they are vegan or not. I bought them from Lakeland in a little pot and it didn’t say not suitable for vegans on the ingredients.

My daughter and I couldn’t wait to have a piece and the icing was still runny when we cut the cake. But it was delicious and I can definitely recommend the recipe. Another one on my getting increasingly longer shortlist to bake again!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #15: Banana And Chocolate Chip Loaf



On the first Monday of the second “lockdown” (don’t even get me started on that term!) I had a day at home.  I wasn’t even sure what was going to happen for some of that week.  Some of my work involves working in a day nursery on a regular basis and the other time I am teaching on supply in various primary schools in my area.  I knew I already had Friday booked but nothing for the three remaining days of the week. Although I love teaching, I am really anxious at the moment with the Covid situation.  I am really careful with keeping safe but I have to do my job.

To me, baking is a massive help and distraction from the crazy world we live in.  Even before the pandemic came I found baking on my days off extremely calm and therapeutic. I’d put on some of my favourite music in the kitchen and get lost in my own little baking world. I think back to why I started baking in the first place and that was over 20 years ago as a new mum.  Obviously baking was the last thing on my mind when I had a newborn but I bought a couple of Annabel Karmel’s recipe books to help give me ideas for family meals. 

In Annabel’s book The Family Meal Planner, she had a recipe for banana bread. I used to make this so often as my kids loved it and so did Mr S.  I still make this recipe to this day! Funny how my kids (especially my son)  wouldn’t eat many of her baby purees at the time but they loved all the cake recipes!
On this Monday morning I had some bananas to use up and thought about baking some banana loaf.  Annabel’s recipe includes optional nuts like walnuts or pecans but I sometimes substitute in dark chocolate chips or raisins.  It’s also a great way of using up stuff you have at home.  I also decided to try a slightly different Banana Loaf recipe and went for the one in my Great British Bake Off Amazing Cakes book. It is similar in quantities but it is a plain banana loaf with no chocolate or nuts in.

As per usual, the butter and sugar was mixed together first using the creaming method. Then beaten eggs were added in carefully, followed by  some vanilla extract.

In another bowl I weighed out the dry ingredients: plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and my own addition: a teaspoonful of cinnamon.  After the dry ingredients were folded in, I added in three ripe mashed bananas and some sour cream.  The Annabel Karmel recipe uses natural yoghurt here but I had sour cream left over from making fajitas a couple of days before.  I also added in 75g of dark chocolate chips to my mixture.

The loaf was baked in a 900g or 2lb loaf tin and I used one of my pre made loaf tin liners which I think came from Lakeland originally.

I followed the baking time carefully (one hour) and had the oven temperature on at 160o fan as stated but I felt as if the top of the cake looked burnt and unappealing.  It definitely wasn’t burnt inside and it tasted fine when I had a piece with a cup of tea later on.

Sliced up into pieces, we ate the banana bread over the next week. It keeps well for a couple of days in the tin but I always freeze it and get out exactly what we need for the day. 

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #8: Iced Gingerbread Loaf

As the days grow colder and it gets into Autumn, I always like to think of gingerbread and other comforting bakes. I love gingerbread as it has a strong flavour and smells heavenly as it is baking. I especially like iced gingerbread as it reminds me of the ones I’ve eaten when I’ve been to Scotland on holiday.

On Saturday morning I had baked soda bread and wanted to make something else. I looked through the Amazing Cakes book and thought what had I got in the cupboard that also had a seasonal element to it. I had lots of golden syrup and treacle to use up so what better than the Sticky Gingerbread Loaf as made by Michael Chakraverty from last year’s Great British Bake Off. Michael’s recipe according to the recipe notes was “a family recipe that has been passed down to Michael from his great grandmother via his grandmother and mum” and was also one of the first cakes he and his mum baked together. I love how family memories can be created from baking and it’s exactly the same in my family.

First, the dry ingredients were weighed out and mixed together: flour and ground ginger. In another bowl I put bicarbonate of soda mixed with a bit of milk. The rest of the milk was put in a pan on the stove with some baking spread, brown sugar, golden syrup and treacle until it was melted.

When the melted mixture cooled a little, I mixed it all together and then put it into the prepared loaf tin. I used a loaf tin liner as they’re so much easier.

While the loaf was baking, I mixed up some lemon glace icing. This was just simply icing sugar and lemon juice mixed up and poured on top of the cake. I wanted a thick icing rather than a little drizzle and left it to set before I could dive into it!

I really enjoyed the taste of the gingerbread and it was perfect with a cuppa. I wish I could have another and another….

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

Honey and Camomile Bara Brith

I regularly make fruit loaves at home as they always go down well with Mr S with a cup of tea when he gets in from work.  I love a bit of fruit loaf myself and there’s nothing better than having a big slice slathered in butter.  Apart from Yorkshire Tea Loaf with a nice chunk of good old Wensleydale cheese, I can’t get enough of Bara Brith.

Bara Brith is a Welsh version of fruit loaf. Translated from Welsh, it means Speckled Bread.  Originally in some versions of Bara Brith, it is more like a bread made with yeast but I am more used to the loaf cake version. I love Bara Brith because it reminds me of my uni days.  Back in the early 1990s I was at uni in Bangor and sometimes used to buy slices of bara brith in one of the local bakeries.  Mr S lived in Ceredigion for about 10 years before his family moved to Norfolk and we love going back to visit his childhood haunts including sampling all the local Bara Brith and Welsh Cakes.

On our last holiday in Ceredigion, we went to New Quay Honey Farm which is down the road from where Mr S lived as a child.  The cafe there had some delicious honey themed cakes and bakes, including some Honey Bara Brith.  We just had to have some.

Last Sunday afternoon I made some Bara Brith from my own recipe I created after this visit.  My version has honey in it (not Welsh this time as I had what my local Morrisons had to offer) and instead of ordinary tea, I used a Twinings Camomile and Honey Teabag to infuse/ soak the dried fruit in. It gives the cake a wonderful aromatic flavour.

 HONEY AND CAMOMILE BARA BRITH

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

275g mixed, dried fruit (I use whatever I have in the cupboard, so long as it adds up to the right quantity)*

1 camomile and honey tea bag (Twinings or similar)

3 tbsp good quality runny honey

1 large free range egg, beaten

85g soft, light brown sugar

Grated zest of lemon

350g self raising flour

1 tsp ground mixed spice

*For the Bara Brith made at the weekend, I used a mixture of currants, raisins, mixed peel and dried apricots as that’s what I had left in the cupboard. I’ve also used sultanas, glace cherries and cranberries as well in the past.

The night before you want to bake the cake, you will need to soak the dried fruit. I usually do this in a large bowl. Put all the dried fruit into the bowl. In a measuring jug, make up the camomile tea with 350ml of boiling water.  Leave the tea to brew for about 10 minutes. Discard the teabag then stir in the honey. After this, pour the tea onto the dried fruit and leave to soak overnight. I leave it with a clean tea towel on top of it.

  1. When you are ready to bake your Bara Brith, pre-heat the oven to 180oC/ Fan 160oC/ 350oF or Gas 4.  Grease and line a 900g or 2 lb loaf tin with baking parchment. I prefer to use loaf tin liners (available from all good cookware shops).
  2. Strain the dried fruit into another large mixing bowl but reserve the tea for later.  Stir the beaten egg into the fruit mixture.
  3. Add all the other ingredients to the fruit, folding them in carefully so that everything is mixed well. You can then add in the reserved tea bit by bit until the cake mixture has a dropping consistency.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 1 1/2 hours until the cake is risen and firm.  If the cake looks like it is browning too quickly on the top, cover it with some foil to allow it to bake for its full time. Test the cake with a skewer and if it comes out clean, then it is ready.
  5. Leave in the tin to cool down for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool down completely.
  6. When completely cool, the cake can be sliced up and served with butter.

Let me know if you try baking my Bara Brith. As I type it’s nearly time for lunch and I’m tempted to grab a slice of Bara Brith to keep me going until I have time to prepare something properly. There’s a couple of slices left in the tin!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Marmalade Loaf Cake


It has been ages since I’ve baked using one of my precious Nordicware Bundt pans. I really miss using them but I haven’t had chance while we’ve been quarantined.  But last weekend I was happy to dig out my special fluted loaf pan and thought it would be great to test out a recipe in it. I’d also had a jar of St Dalfour Orange jam/ marmalade which I thought would be perfect to go in a loaf cake with a few nuts which needed using up.  This recipe is a bit of an inpromptu bake  which was hurriedly thought up on a Sunday afternoon.

So here we have Marmalade Loaf:

You will need a 2 lb loaf tin which you can line with either baking parchment or a special loaf tin liner which are available from most great cookery retailers. Or if you have a Nordicware Bundt Loaf pan you can use that.  I greased my pan carefully in the usual way with baking spray.

Ingredients:
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
175g soft light brown sugar (or demerera blitzed in a food processor)
100g chopped nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans as that’s what I had left)
175g softened, unsalted butter
3 medium free range eggs
150g of good quality marmalade or orange jam

  1. First, pre heat your oven to 180oC (fan 160o)/ 350oF or Gas 4.  Line or prepare your chosen baking tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and the ground cinnamon and mix it so it is evenly distributed.  Stir in the sugar and then add in the chopped nuts.
  3. Then add the softened butter to the bowl. 
  4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the three eggs together and then transfer them to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix together until well combined.
  5. Finally, add in all but 25g of the marmalade.  The last 25g can be used later on to brush on the cake as a glaze.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and put in the oven. 
  7. Bake for 1- 1 1/4 hours but check that the cake is cooked thoroughly in the middle by testing with a skewer inserted into the centre.  If you see the cake looks like it’s getting too brown on top, you could always cover it with some foil to prevent it burning too much.
  8. Remove from the oven and after 5 minutes put the loaf onto a wire rack to cool for a further 5 minutes. 
  9. Warm the rest of the marmalade through by putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds.  If you prefer, gently heat it in a pan on the hob instead.  Add a tablespoonful of water to the mixture, stir it and then brush it all over the loaf. 
  10. Leave the loaf to cool completely.

  • The loaf can be served with or without being spread with butter.  The choice is yours!




  • I can’t believe how rubbish the photos are.  It was night time by the time I’d had chance to take a photo of the cake.  It did justice to the beautiful design of the Bundt pan but the giant pieces of orange peel distract from it a bit.  My son has just looked over at the picture as I’m typing now and said “What the hell is on that cake, they look like worms!”

    I chose to cut the cake up into eight large pieces.  Half of the slices were boxed up in twos and put outside on Bank Holiday Monday morning with some other bakes for my neighbours and local friends to pick up while still social distancing from my gate.  The other slices I put into a plastic box and have been put into the freezer to take out as and when we fancy a piece of cake.  I also did this with some banana bread and some fruit loaf.


    Let me know if you have tried the recipe and what you think of it.

    Stay safe!
    Happy Baking.
    Love Sam xx

    Nostalgic Bakes from Paul Hollywood’s “A Baker’s Life”

    The recent spate of snow days has made me want to stay in my warm kitchen and bake comfort food.  Never mind me trying to diet.  Forget that! When you feel cold and tired, all you want to do is to hibernate with a giant piece of flapjack in each hand!

    I ended not being able to work for three days due to the snow last week but then again I wasn’t the only one.  Then again it gave me chance to catch up with jobs and to try out some recipes from Paul Hollywood’s latest book A Baker’s Life.  I had got it at Christmas last year and had my eye on several things I wanted to test out.

    The book spans the five decades of Paul’s life so far from his childhood as the son of a baker in Merseyside right up to the present day as a judge on The Great British Bake Off.  Each chapter in the book concentrates on recipes from a certain time of life.  I wanted to start with the first chapter: Nostalgic Bakes from Paul’s early years.

    There were loads of recipes to choose from, including traditional favourites that we would all remember from our own childhoods.  Some of the recipes are perfect for actually making with children, such as Cornflake Cakes and Jam Tarts.  As well as these, there were also recipes for bakes that your grandma or mum may have made in years gone by.  The first recipe in the book was actually called My Mum’s Ginger Biscuits.  I absolutely love ginger biscuits and they remind me of the Yorkshire Ginger Biscuits my Nana Margaret would buy.  She would never bake them as she was a walking disaster in the kitchen.  If she could buy it in Marks and Spencer’s food hall, she would have it and pass it off as her own.

    Paul says in his recipe introduction: ” Not only are they a doddle to make, but they’ve got the right balance of being crispy and chewy.” The recipe was an old-fashioned melting method one, where the butter or margarine is melted in a saucepan on the hob with golden syrup and caster sugar. Then once the melted mixture was cooled enough to handle, then self raising flour and a beaten egg were added to the mixture.

    The mixture was then gathered up into a ball and made into a dough.  I separated the dough into about 24 pieces and spaced them out carefully on lined baking trays.  I put two trays in the oven at a time and watched them like a hawk. They could easily burn quickly after about 10 minutes.

    I always like my cookies on the chewy side and to be honest I would add tiny pieces of chopped stem ginger to the dough.  This version has the ginger flavour coming from ground ginger and wow, did my kitchen smell wonderful! I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep them from being scoffed instead of taking them into work.

    When the biscuits were cooling down on the rack, I decided to have a go at another recipe from the Nostalgic Bakes chapter.  This time it was for a Tea Loaf.  I have baked countless tea loaves in my time, including my own version of a Welsh Bara Brith which recipe is featured in the second Clandestine Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake.  I can’t resist a slice of tea loaf, slathered in butter and with a cup of my beloved Yorkshire Tea.  The recipe doesn’t feature any spices or citrus fruit zest but is crammed full of raisins, sultanas and currants.  I did not have any currants but made up the difference in weight with extra sultanas and raisins.  The dried fruit had been previously soaked in some strong Yorkshire Tea and to this I added self raising flour, demerara sugar, milk and a beaten egg.

    Once this was mixed up, I lined my 2 lb loaf tin with a special loaf tin liner and put it to bake in my fan oven.  I completely forgot that I also needed to bake some potato wedges to go along with the Cajun Chicken breasts cooking in the slow oven for our dinner that night.  So half way through the baking time I had to whip the oven door open and stuff the tray of wedges in on the shelf underneath the tea loaf.  Luckily they were both ready at the same time as I didn’t want the cake sinking.

    I left the cake to cool on the side with the ginger biscuits and then took them along to work the following day.  I left them in the staff room and found that half the biscuits had gone along with a couple of slices of cake when I popped in at lunchtime before going home.

    Next week I’m thinking of trying out some Millionaire’s Shortbread if I have time.

    Happy Baking

    Love Sam xx

    The Great British Bake Off Christmas- Jamaican Gingerbread Loaf.

    4th December 2017.

    Today being a Monday I really struggled to get out of bed this morning. I’d had a good night’s sleep until something woke me up at 4.30am. That was it, I was wide awake for an hour. The alarm was due to go off at 6am but of course I drifted back off to sleep just as I’d got back into the land of Nod! Then, could I get myself moving? Course I couldn’t. I’m not a morning person at the best of times. There’s only one type of work that would get me out of bed early and that’s when I’m baking! It doesn’t seem like work to me when you’re in the kitchen with music playing in the background.

    But needs must. I love being a teacher though some mornings I wish I could be beamed direct from my house to the school I’m at, especially with the horrendous traffic congestion I have round near where I live. This morning was no exception. My journey to school should have taken me 35 minutes. It took me nearer 50.

    Back home this afternoon I got out the mixing bowl and scales to test out another recipe from The Great British Bake Off Christmas. I love the spicy aroma of gingerbread at any time of the year but Christmas definitely lends itself to these flavours. I was really keen to try out the Jamaican Gingerbread loaf which was a perfect way of using up some treacle left over in a tin after baking some Parkin and also putting it in my Christmas cake. The loaf is an ideal bake to have as a standby, say if you have people popping over for a cuppa and it was really easy to make.

    To begin with you melt butter in a saucepan with some dark brown muscovado sugar, some treacle and some golden syrup. When this has melted you take it off the heat and leave it to cool. In another bowl you weigh out some plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and some mixed spice. Add the melted mixture to it, along with a beaten egg and then fold in the flour mixture. Finally add in some chopped stem ginger pieces.

    I always use pre made loaf tin liners which save me a lot of faffing about. The mixture was poured into the prepared loaf tin and put in the oven at about 160oC for about 45-50 minutes. Unfortunately I set the oven timer to 45 minutes but promptly forgot to switch it on. I suddenly remembered about the loaf when I could smell gingerbread coming from the kitchen. Luckily it came out of the oven just in time and although had sunk slightly in the middle, it looked wonderful.

    After about an hour of cooling I cut the loaf up into 8 generous slices. It took all my willpower not to scoff a slice there and then. I boxed up the loaf and decided to take it with me to work tomorrow to leave in the staff room.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx

    Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf

    It’s been a couple of months at least since I’ve been to a Clandestine Cake Club event.  I’ve been working full time and I haven’t baked much recently.  The Clandestine Cake Club’s VCake Events are a fantastic idea if you can’t get to an event but you still want to bake.  I love taking part in them and I baked a cake.  But unfortunately, I forgot to email my cake photos to the Club’s founder, Lynn Hill so my cake wasn’t included in the event write up.

    The  event write up is featured on the Clandestine Cake Club website and the link is here  Magazines, Leaflets and Booklets 

    The idea was that many people collect or stash recipes gleaned from magazines, leaflets and booklets. I do. I buy Good Food magazine and Delicious magazine but only get chance to cook recipes out of them sometimes.  I’m always picking up recipe leaflets and booklets but never seem to get round to cooking anything from them. This event was such a good idea to get you searching through those cake recipes you wish you had had chance to bake.  Funnily enough this month’s Good Food magazine came with a free cake recipe booklet to celebrate the magazine’s 300th issue! I’ve not been buying all of those, I was only 18 when the first issue of Good Food mag came out and as a sixth former cooking was the last thing I was interested in!

    There were several recipes I wanted to try in the booklet but the one that I thought my whole family would eat was the Chocolate Cherry Bakewell Loaf.  All the flavours of a bakewell tart but in a loaf form and with chocolate as well.  Bound to be a hit!

    Last Sunday I chose to bake this, along with some scones.  Mr SmartCookieSam was out at a Classic Car show and my two grown up children were at work. So it was me on my lonesome! Perfect opportunity to get my apron on and the scales out, especially as the weather has been so rubbish.

    Recipe as featured in Good Food Magazine.

    Cuts into 8-10 slices.

    Ingredients:

    200g softened butter

    140g fresh, stoned and halved cherries *

    140g plain flour

    200g golden caster sugar

    3 medium eggs

    1 1/2 tsp baking powder

    75g ground almonds

    2 tbsp milk

    1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extracts

    200g dark or milk chocolate, chopped.

    2 tbsp toasted, flaked almonds.

    • First, heat the oven to 160oC/ 140oC fan/ Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.  I swear by the ready made loaf tin liners readily available from shops like Lakeland.
    • Now to deal with the cherries.  If you are using fresh cherries, you need to wash, destone and half them first.  Then toss them in a tablespoonful of the flour from the quantity already weighed out.  If you are choosing to use glace cherries like I did, then thoroughly wash them to get the syrup off.  Then pat dry on a paper towel, halve them, rinse and dry again.  Then toss in a tablespoonful of flour.
    • Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.  When this is done, add the eggs one by one and mix well between each addition.
    • Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the ground almonds.
    • Stir in the milk, the two extracts and half of the chocolate.  Then add in the cherries.
    • Bake in the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes approx or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
    • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool down completely.
    • When the cake has cooled down, melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave and drizzle or pipe it on top of the cake.
    • Scatter on top with toasted, flaked almonds.
    • Wait for the chocolate on top to set a bit before slicing the cake.

    Now as I’m always doing things in a hurry or have a zillion things on the go at once, I was a little bit disappointed to find my chocolate and cherries had sunk to the bottom of the cake.  I’ve made cherry cakes before which have remained in the middle.  So why not this one? I thoroughly rinsed and dried the cherries as well as tossing them in flour.  Maybe it was the rest of the cake mixture.  Didn’t spoil the taste of the cake though.  I also didn’t bother with adding toasted almond flakes to the top of the cake.

    I demolished a slice of this gorgeous cake with a cup of tea on that Sunday afternoon while reading a magazine.  It had the almond flavour running through it and tasted just like a cherry bakewell cake should taste with the added dimension of dark chocolate.  Cherries and chocolate work so well together.  I will definitely make this cake again as my family really enjoyed it.  The remainder froze well, although the cake apparently does keep in a cake tin for up to four days.

    Happy Baking!

    Love Sam xx