The fire alarm testers are making their rounds in our building today. Not only are alarms blaring one at a time with increasing proximity, each one scaring the bloody bajeezus out of me, but I've learned that we are additionally protected by a speaker system in each room, also being tested. A man's voice has been saying "testing" in a bored monotone voice, at 1 minute intervals, for periods of 10 minutes at time, in alternating rooms, ALL DAY LONG.
The icing (sugar) on the cake? My dog is fully scared stiff by this unearthly voice. To defend himself from the sinister invisible man in our home, he follows each "testing" with an angry, growly bark. So my life at present is being punctuated by "BEEP BEEP!" "testing" "BARK!" "BEEP BEEP!" "testing" "BARK!" "BEEP BEEP!" "testing" "BARK!". My bloodshot eyes are bulging out of my head, which is twitching involuntarily.
I'm so tempted to join in the fun by taking a tequila shot each time...
But alas, there is work to be done. Including sharing this lovely sour cherry almond torte with you.
I am obsessed with sour cherries. They are 100% unquestionably my favourite fruit. So tart and juicy and vibrantly red. I would do things I am ashamed of for a piece of sour cherry pie.
However, despite British Columbia being a bountiful cherry-growing province, I have never found the sour varieties at the markets. If you have a tip for me, please share it!
I did find them frozen recently, when I stumbled into an Eastern European delicatessan to buy something for lunch after an productive morning at the pottery studio. They were nestled into the freezer case next to fat bags of homemade pierogies, those gleaming ruby red gems. No stickers, no signs, just handfuls of sour cherries tossed into sacks secured with twist ties.
My voice squeaked a little when I held a bag out to the charming czech lady behind the counter and asked wide eyed "are these... *gulp*... sour cherries??". Her affirmation led me to do some gleeful hopping around the store.
My friend Kristiana patiently accepted having the cherries shaken in her face for the next five minutes while I regaled her with the tale of my search for these precious little fruits. She smiled at me like I wasn't crazy and nodded at all the crucial bits of my story. I think she even participated in a sour-cherry high five. She's a good friend.
I took home my bounty, and baked it into a moist, nutty torte. The torte itself is made with flour and almond meal (aka ground almonds, or almond flour), producing a very tender, rich cake. A layer of cherries is cooked into the centre, and the top is sprinkled with sliced almonds.
Almonds and cherries are a match made in heaven.
I still have half my bag left, I think I am going to cook them simply in a lightly sweetened compote to have with thick yogurt for breakfast.
Sour Cherry Almond Torte
Serve dusted with icing sugar, or better yet, with homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream.
1 lb sour cherries (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup almond meal
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1. Stir together cherries, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until cherries soften and liquid thickens, about 7-10 minutes. Set mixture aside to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" springform pan; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender to work butter into the flour mixture, until the butter pieces are no larger than lentils. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping. Stir baking soda into remaining mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and almond extract. Gently stir into dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined.
4. Spread two-thirds of the cake batter in the bottom of the springform pan. Use a large spoon to gently spread cherry filling over bottom layer, then drop remaining 1/3 dough by spoonfuls over top. Gently smooth surface with the back of a clean spoon; sprinkle with reserved butter-flour mixture and sliced almonds. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown and tester inserted in the centre of the cake layer comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing ring; cool completely on wire rack.