A taste of Spain: Picota Cherries

There are some things worth waiting for and the Picota cherry is one of them.  The season is short and sweet just like the fruit and lasts from mid-June to the end of July.

The cherry variety is Ambrunes but the name Picota singularly applies to those grown in the Jerte Valley in Western Spain.  Protected by a denomination of origin (DO) certificate, this is the guarantee it’s grown, harvested and packed under rigorous quality control.

Picota’s come stalk-less and picked at the best time ensuring the stalks leave the fruit unharmed.  The missing stalk is an indication of the fruit’s perfect ripeness.

So, what to do with two punnets of these delicious beauties sent to me to try, apart from sitting down and devouring the lot?  One of my favourite cherry recipes is a cherry tray-bake a glorious almond cake a layer of thick, juicy cherries and a crumble topping.

This is a Rachel Allen recipe and is incredibly easy to follow and the results are always good.

Cherry Crumble Cake

Serves 6

350g (12oz) fresh cherries (use canned if out of season but never glade) stones removed (I have a cherry stoner and it’s worth the investment)

150g (5oz) self-raising flour

Pinch of ground cinnamon

50g (2oz) caster sugar

1 egg

30ml (1fl oz) milk

100g (3.5oz) melted butter

Icing sugar to dust

For the crumble topping

25g (1oz) plain flour

1/4 tsp cinnamon

25g (1oz) caster sugar

25g (1oz) butter cubed

8inch diameter spring form/loose bottomed tin

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (350 degrees F).  Gas mark 4.  Butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

If not using Picota cherries remove the stalks and stones and set the cherries aside.

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl, add the sugar, mix together and make a well in the centre.

Whilst the egg, milk and melted butter together in another bowl, then pour into the dry ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon or whisk.  Beat well to make a thick, smooth mixture, then spoon into the prepared tin and spread evenly.  Scatter the cherries over the top and gently press in with the back of a fork.

To make the topping, tip all the ingredients into a bowl.  Rub in the butter with your fingertips to make a crumb-like mixture and scatter the topping over the cherries.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Leave in the tin for about 10 minutes until cool enough to handle, then run a knife around the edge and remove the cake from the tin.  Cool on a wire rack.

Dust with the icing sugar and serve.

I serve this with a thick Greek yogurt, flavoured with a little vanilla.