This recipe utilizes the best of summer's bounty. The cherries are cooked for a bit with thir usually discarded companions - the pits, which are cracked and wrapped in a cheesecloth. They bubble happily with the cherries on the stove to release their sweet almond flavor. (I wanted to add whole star anise in the cheesecloth, but the store didn't have any.) Orange zest and a little bit of orange juice brighten the flavors and cut through the sweet. The cherries are layered over sliced peaches and over this goes a heady batter of toasted almonds lightened with creamed butter and whipped egg whites. After it is baked, flip the pan over for gorgeous fruit over a moist, nutty cake. —Heena
one 9-inch cake
3/4 - 1 pounds
dark ripe cherries (depending on your preference of fruit-to-cake ratio)
grated zest of half an orange
fresh orange juice
large ripe but firm peaches, thinly sliced
(1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 - 1/2 cups
granulated sugar (depending on your taste)
Pit the cherries. (If you don't have a cherry pitter, a vegetable peeler works well. Insert at the stem end of the cherry and scoop out the stem and the seed.) Crack the cherry pits a bit (with a nutcracker or mortar-and-pestle). Place the cherry pits in a cheesecloth and tie the ends shut.
Place the cherries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, Amaretto and cheesecloth-wrapped cherry pits in a saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until the cherries are soft, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Place the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Keep a close watch and don't let them burn; the toasty smell should alert you to when they are done. (If using sliced almonds for the garnish, toast them now, about 5 mins.)
Lightly butter a 9-inch cake pan. Place the peach slices in a single layer in the pan, overlapping a little. Place the cooled cherries over the peaches.
Process the toasted almonds in a food processor till they are finely ground. (Don't over-mix or the almonds will begin to form a paste.)
Cream the butter and sugar till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and continue till the almonds are well incorporated into the mixture. Mix in the vanilla extract.
Place the egg whites in a metal bowl. Add a pinch of salt and whip the whites with clean beaters until soft peaks just begin to form. Add the sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, till the mixture begins to form stiff peaks.
Mix in a ladle of the whipped whites into the almond mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites; at this point there is no need to be completely throrough.
Sift the flour over the batter and fold in gently just until the flour is incorporated and there are no traces of egg whites.
Bake in the preheated oven until a cake-tester/knife inserted in the center (not all the way to the bottom) comes out clean, about 40 mins.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then place a serving plate over the cake pan and quickly flip the pan over. Gently lift the cake pan. Rescue any fruit that may still be in the pan. Cool to room temperature and serve garnished with sliced toasted almonds.