After my wonderful meal at Honey & Smoke last week, I couldn’t resist buying the Honey & Co: Food From the Middle East cookbook. I hoped to find recipes for some of the dishes I enjoyed at the restaurant, particularly the selection of mezze we had at the start of the meal, and I’m happy to say many of the dishes are included. But something we didn’t eat was this Cherry, Pistachio & Coconut Cake and the photo took my eye the first time I looked through the book, so I decided to make it this weekend.
Now a cake is going to feed lots of people and as it turned out I saw a lot of Jonathan, Lyndsey and Freddie … but not all together. I had lunch at the lovely Corto Deli yesterday with Jonathan and Freddie; this morning I had breakfast in Paul in Richmond with Lyndsey and Freddie, but in our busy weekend we didn’t all come together for a meal. Still, I’d set my mind on baking the cake so I went ahead. I kept a couple of portions for myself and offered the rest to Jonathan as they were having friends to lunch today. And it happened to be the friends who Jonathan and Lyndsey went to Honey & Smoke with a few weeks ago, which led me to eat there. ‘I won’t write it up on the blog until I get everyone’s opinion,’ I told Jonathan. Thankfully, we all loved it – so here it is!
I pretty much followed Honey & Co’s recipe to the letter but with a couple of changes. They use 300g cherries (and suggest you could always use plums or raspberries as an alternative), but by the time I’d cut 200g cherries onto the cake batter, I felt I had enough. Also, they add a teaspoon of ‘ground mahleb‘. I had to look that one up; it’s a spice made from the seed kernel of cherries and apparently has a flavour similar to bitter almond. I didn’t know where to buy that so simply left it out. The cake was clearly going to still be good without it.
Cherry, Pistachio & Coconut Cake
- 100g caster sugar, plus 20g for topping
- 90g light soft brown sugar
- 180g ground almonds
- 30g ground pistachios
- 45g desiccated coconut
- 50g self-raising flour
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon ground mahleb (optional, see above)
- 150g butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 200-300g cherries (see above)
- 50g roughly chopped pistachios for the topping
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
Grease and line a 22cm diameter cake tin.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Pour over the melted butter, add the eggs and mix well.
Transfer the cake batter to the prepared tin. Now cut the cherries in half and remove the stone. Put the cherries on top of the batter. The book suggests cutting them over the batter so you collect any juice on to the top. Chop the pistachios.
Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the cherries and the 20g of reserved sugar (I only added 10g as I thought that enough and because I like to cut back on sugar when I can).
It looked pretty even before it was cooked! The book suggests cooking it for 25-30 minutes then turning the tin round for even browning and cooking for another 8-10 minutes. I’m not sure this is needed in my oven that browns fairly evenly anyway, but also I needed quite a bit more cooking time – 60 minutes in total. But do check earlier – your oven may be different! You want it nicely browned but check the centre has cooked too – mine remained soggy for a while. Once the cake is done leave to cool in the tin.
I cooked it late afternoon so it was just cool in time to have it as a dessert after supper and I added a spoonful of plain yoghurt on the side.
It was really delicious: quite sweet, especially with the coconut, and fairly dense but beautifully moist and reminiscent of middle eastern cakes in texture. I loved the combination of the different flavours in it and it makes a brilliant dessert cake. Which is what it turned out to be the following day at Jonathan’s … I’d kept another slice for myself which I ate with a cup of tea this afternoon, sitting in a warm corner of my garden which caught some rare sun (the weather in London has been awful of late!). I thought it tasted even better for being left for a day. They say in the book it will keep for a week (depending on how many mouths you have to feed in your home!) but keep it in the fridge, bringing it out to reach room temperature before serving.
It was very easy to make – almost an all-in-one recipe; the kind I like best! I’m sure to do it again and I rather think it will be on the family’s request list now.
I thoroughly recommend the book which is full of lots more wonderful recipes and is also a delight to look through with great photos.