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This recipe for Marzipan Cake with Cherries and Mint is a summer upgrade of a basic, everyday loaf cake I’ve made again, and again, and again. Plump, juicy cherries macerated in a little lemon juice are the perfect partner to the buttery, grilled cake, everything finished with just a hint of aromatic and herbal mint.
There are some recipes that are just keepers. This Marzipan loaf cake recipe is one of them.
I first made it at Christmas time, devouring slice after slice as I binge read curled up in a blanket neat the fire. Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s full-of-keepers book Cook, Eat, Repeat (ad – shockingly only £7 on Amazon at the moment!) it has since been a cake I’ve given as a gift, and contributed to family gatherings – no one seems to want to stop at just one slice. It’s brilliance is not just in it’s addictive, buttery flavour (if you like almonds but don’t like marzipan, you won’t be able to tell that it is made from the latter, not the former) but in that you just dump everything in the food processor, blitz it together, scrape into a tin, and bake.
I’ve not changed the recipe much, but to ring the changes I’ve extended the cooking time as it always seems to need it unless you’re baking a shorter, slimmer cake in a 2 lb rather than the called for 1 lb loaf pan, and removed the cardamom from the recipe. I adore cardamom, it is my favourite spice and I’d put it in everything if I could… but my family all hate it, and I can’t eat an entire cake by myself, so alas I’ve never put it in.
Because it is so simple, and because this Marzipan Cake stays wonderfully moist if made ahead is why it is suited to jazzing up a little.
First, we’re grilling the cake. It may have only a little bit of sugar (and a fair bit of butter) added to the batter but the amount of both sugar and fat in the marzipan lends itself well to getting those beautiful lines which also add an element of barbecue flavour that just screams summer. Use the lit barbecue or a grill pan, it is up to you.
Next, I can’t get enough of inky, juicy Kent cherries at the moment, and when I was macerating them in a little lemon and sugar to make my Chocolate and Cherry Eton Mess for local food hall Macknade this month I realised they’d make the perfect partner for this cake – cherry and almond being a match made in heaven, after all – and so this dessert was born. At first I just added the fresh mint for colour, but it lifts the flavour and makes it a bit more special.
As I noted in the Eton Mess recipe for a more grown up version of this dessert, do feel free to add a splash of kirsch or cherry brandy to the macerating fruit for a little bit of a kick.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to grill the cake?
No, most often we just have slices by themselves. Obviously laying slices on the barbecue to cook and set aside for dessert is the obvious choice if it is lit, but a seasoned cast iron griddle pan also adds that layer of smoky flavour that makes this more than just cake for dessert.
Can I use fruits other than cherries? Or is it just a recipe for Marzipan cake with cherries?
Of course! The night before I photographed this we had slices with home grown strawberries for dinner. Raspberries, blackberries and loganberries are all also delicious, as are stone fruits like ripe slices of peach, apricot, plum or nectarine. Switching seasons, you can add back in the cardamom flavour I removed by serving slices with a dollop of creamy natural yogurt and a generous spoonful of my forced rhubarb and cardamom compote.
Slices of moist Marzipan Loaf Cake and lightly grilled before being served with lightly macerated cherries and a handful of fresh mint for a simple summer dessert that is easy to make ahead.
For the Marzipan Loaf Cake
150g marzipan (white or yellow)
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 large eggs
For the Macerated Cherries
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar
handful fresh mint
Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius, and grease and line a 1 lb loaf pan (the smaller of the two sizes!)
Tear the marzipan into small pieces and add it to the food processor along with the rest of the cake ingredients. Blitz until smooth, and scrape into the prepare tin.
Bake for 50 minutes until the top is golden and when you insert a cake tester into the middle of the cake it comes out clean.
While the cake cools, macerate the cherries. Half and pit them then stir them together with the lemon juice and sugar in a non-reactive bowl (glass or plastic, not metal!) Set aside for at least 20 minutes.
Cut the cake into 8 slices and grill until charred either on the barbecue, or on a hot griddle pan.
Serve with the cherries spooned over the slices and scattered with fresh mint.
The cake will keep wrapped in cling film for up to 3 days (but it usually does not last that long!) so feel free to scale down the amount of cherries needed if you’re not feeding a crowd.
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