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Cherry, Pistachio, Ricotta Cake

By Lea Harris

The beauty of June is the start of the soft fruit season and the most-prized of these, to me, has to be the cherry. Who didn't, as a child, tuck conjoined cherries over their ears as earrings? I still do! In my teenage years, I had a boyfriend who lived in Kent and the family home was called Cherry Trees. The front garden was bordered by, strangely enough, cherry trees! The great thing about them was they were fruit producing. We'd sit in the garden, seeing who could spit the pits furthest. I wonder if they ended up with an orchard in the back garden.His mum was a dab hand at making the most of the ruby beauties; from a stunning cherry almond cake to copious jars of preserves. She'd stuff a bottle of brandy with the wee darlings ready for to feed her marvellous Christmas cake from the beginning of November. Today we don't see many native breeds; I remember cherries that were pale yellow flecked with red from Kent, but now the almost black imports swamp the shops throughout the year. There are some deep purple varieties grown in Scotland - a joy to eat with ricotta for breakfast. This month's recipe is inspired by my love of ricotta and cherries - the latter can be replaced with raspberries or blueberries.

Cherry, Pistachio, Ricotta Cake 3oz/75g caster sugar 1 large egg 4 tbsp melted butter 3oz/75g self raising flour 2oz/50g toasted and finely blitzed pistachio nuts Topping 9oz/250g fresh cherries, pitted 3oz/75g icing sugar 9oz/250g ricotta cheese 5oz/150g sour cream 1 large egg 1 tsp amaretto or almond essence Method Line an 8in/20cm round or 9in/23cm square tin with greaseproof paper. Whisk the first three ingredients until thick and creamy. Mix the flour and nuts together, then fold into the whisked egg mix. Plop mixture into tin and smooth top. Bake in pre-heated oven 180C/Fan160C/Gas4. Topping Chuck cherries onto kitchen paper to soak up juice. Plop all the topping ingredients into a bowl (excl cherries) and beat until smooth. Fold in cherries and spread over base and bake for further 20-25 minutes until top is just set. Cool in tin and then serve with ice cream - chocolate works well! 

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