Why would any recipe we make at the moment with cherries in be a surprise? Well read on and see for yourself...
The basic recipe for cherry surprise cake is one that you will find on a number of French cookery sites. Kristin Espinasse from French Word a Day has posted Uncle Jacques' version, and Clotilde Dusoulier has put her mother's on Chocolate and Zucchini.
The cake recipe is all about ratios – un : deux : trois – so very easy to remember.
Take un individual pot of plain natural yoghurt and, using the now empty yoghurt pot as a measuring device, mix it with deux pots of sugar* and trois beaten eggs. Stir in trois pots of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda. Tip in une pot of vegetable oil and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into your buttered cake tin/s of choice and cook for at least 40 minutes at 160°C. The small cakes I did in old pâté dishes (12cm x 9cm) took 40 minutes, but the bigger cake in a silicone log 'tin' (20cm x 10cm) took an hour in our mini oven, and needed a piece of foil over the top to stop it burning.
And the surprise?
Well, the cake doesn't have cherries in it, but I did add a by-product of our cherry processing – the half lemon skins that were added to the jam for extra pectin. They have been candied and taken on some of the cherry colour so are now an appealing pink. I cut them into slivers with the scissors and added them to the batter prior to pouring it into the cake tins. The result is a rather moist cake which has maturing well over a day or two, and while some of the pieces of lemon are a bit chewy, the lemon-zesty-with-hint-of-cherry flavour is an excellent addition to this homely cake.
*French supermarkets stock extra fine castor sugar (sucre poudre très fluide) which I am really enjoying using. It comes in a packet with a pourer and I have been pouring it into jars with a few coffee beans, cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods that have been used once or twice before but still have something to give. After only a few days the spices will have imparted their lovely flavour and aroma to the sugar and it can be used. Note that this sugar does contain an anti-caking product (silica), but I am under the impression that silica is a harmless food additive, as well as occuring naturally in the skins and cell walls of many grains and vegetables.