January 6, 2016

CHOCOLATE AND CHERRY SPICE CAKE (forgotten cakes and bakes of 2015)

2015  was a good year for us, but fairly chaotic. Much time was spent moving our furniture and belongings up and down the stairs, in and out of the barn and, in some cases, across the Channel and back again.  This was all due to the building work going on chez nous in France.  We decided to get on with it sooner rather than later, to get it over with and to take advantage of the availability of the various artisans while we had them hooked – the world of blogging is filled with tales of woe as people struggle to find builders, plumbers and carpenters and commit them to getting on with the job and finishing it.  We have been very lucky that way, largely because of some friends who live nearby who were able to point us in the direction of reliable artisans and keep tabs on the work in our absence. 

Then there were numerous trips across the channel for various crises, always in a tearing hurry and never when it was convenient.  It’s been a heck of a year but we survived smiling (well, more of a grimace at times) and if you’re vaguely interested, there’s a brief pictorial account, starting here.

chocolate and cherry spice cake

Throughout all the chaos and building dust I managed to bake quite often.  What I didn’t have the time to do was write about it.  In actual fact the main problem was not so much finding the time to write but in finding somewhere sensible to set up the laptop and do it.  In our French house there are many no-go areas where the rather feeble broadband does not get through the enormously thick stone walls, so in order for the computer to work only certain spots in the house will do.  Finding an unoccupied bit of table or any other flat surface in the right spot was not always possible. 

This next few posts will include a number of my forgotten bakes – things I made and that worked well but never got the chance to write about.

First of all is the Chocolate and Cherry Spice Cake that I made for Nick’s birthday in November.  The recipe comes from a lovely blog called “Life’s a Feast”, written by a lady called Jamie, who, with her French husband, bought a hotel in Chinon last year.  She posts lovely recipes and her cakes look divine.  So far this is the only one I have made but I have several bookmarked for future enjoyment.  You can see the blog here.

chocolate and cherry spice cake2

My pictures do not do the cake justice for it really is gorgeous.  Essentially it’s a chocolate cake with spices and dark cherries in it, baked in a Bundt tin.

The recipe suggests using the bottled dark cherries you can find in France, called griottes.  I found a jar quite easily as they are readily available but also quite expensive.  I used a large jar as I couldn’t get a small one but the leftover cherries were lovely served with chunks of the cake and a little cream (or just by themselves).  In the UK I think I would use a tin of dark cherries which would be fine. 

chocolate and cherry spice cake3

In the recipe cherries are arranged carefully in the bottom of the tin so that when the cake is baked they form a nice even ring on the top.  I tried that but the effect was not great, or not nearly as good as in the blog, so next time I think I will just mix them all in. 

Some of the juice from the jar is added to the mixture but I decided to add cherry brandy instead.  As usual I didn’t have all the right ingredients to hand so in place of the ½ teaspoon of ground cloves I used mixed spice.

It was a lovely, moist cake and right up Nick’s street.  He loves chocolate, spices and cherries so it was spot on for his birthday.  It was a large cake but it kept well and was still good after almost a week.  You can see the recipe here.


  1. That's seriously lovely cake. I love that intensity of dark flavours. I truly admire your dedication to baking through all the dislocation and dust, especially when faced with fosse septique issues. I once asked someone we know in France what they did in the long winter nights and they told "We worry about the fosse septique".

    1. Phil, we cherish our fosse septique and it seems to be thriving, but I can see that cherishing would soon turn to worrying. For now I'm just glad to have got rid of the wholly unsavoury thing that was there before. Baking was good therapy in all the chaos, something I could do that was normal and enjoyable.........and was likely to have a predictable result!

  2. Thank you for bringing Jamie Schler and her blog to my attention. I had no idea the Hotel Diderot had changed hands. The cake looks delish, btw. Chocolate and cherries -- what's not to like?

  3. Looks delicious, especially with the extra cherries! Checked out Jamie's blog; an interesting lady with some great ideas.

    1. Gaynor, it's definitely a blog worth following I think.

  4. busy times but good times... cake looks seriously good. Love anything with cherries.