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My cherry amour

June 26, 2014

Cherry, almond, spelt muffin on mycustardpie.comMy Dad pulled the oars of the small, wooden rowing boat. I sat in the prow facing him, with a huge paper bag of cherries in between us. I rolled each smooth globe round my tongue before biting into the sweet flesh, juice exploding into my mouth, before I spat the stones into the lake.

Do you have an early food memory? Cherries remain my favourite fruit not just for the taste. Eating fruit in season is like waiting for a series of Christmases. As June begins I’m keeping my eyes peeled for cherries, knowing that it’s about the second week when small cartons start appearing from Iran, Lebanon and Turkey. As soon as a I bite into the first one I know more than ever that it was worth boycotting the perfect (and perfectly astronomical in cost) ones flown from the U.S. which seem to be available for much of the year.

Going to the commercial fruit and veg market in Al Awir, Dubai, has been on my ‘to do’ list for the longest time. In the meantime, a stroll past Baker and Spice in Al Manzil souk will always bear fruit – the best, seasonal fruit of the region.  Last week I left with a bag of nectarines from Lebanon (that rewarded a first bit with a dribble of juice down the chin), some intensely fragrant, white peaches from Saudi Arabia, and a whole carton of Hungarian cherries. Now I know that Hungary is a bit of a stretch if calling them regional but the air miles were considerably less than the bulk of imported fruit here and they are definitely in season. They had that perky, firmness showing they were liberated from the branches a few days ago (rather than weeks or months). Their rich, deep sweetness was balanced with the tiniest spritz of tartness which makes you reach in for just one more… just one more….

I had big plans for at least 5-6 kilos (or maybe more…I didn’t weigh them) of cherries. My shortlist included a cherry slice recipe and cherry maple meringues from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet and an Iranian pickled cherry preserve from Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar, Smoke. Black Forest combinations were whirling round my head, a compote for dolloping onto overnight oats, claufoutis, a cherry fool….

All this came to nothing as the best thing to do with fruit this good is to eat it as is…. and we did… kilos and kilos of them. Looking at the final small bowlful in the fridge I needed something quick! These muffins are very wholesome in taste and ingredients. Low-gluten due to the spelt (for those who are watching this) and very low in sugar, they make a good, healthy, breakfast muffin. They are mealy, crumbly to the bite with the contrast of the juicy cherries. I might have over-used the word juicy in this post – I just couldn’t help it!

Cherry almond spelt muffins on mycustardpie.comNote: I used a base recipe measured in cups for this and adapted it significantly but retained the proportions. It should have made 12 but the amount was only enough for 9 – which shows the flaw with cup measurements (her cups were obviously much larger than mine!). When I make these again I’ll scale up the proportions and change the amounts below. You’ll want 12 – trust me.

Cherry Almond Spelt Muffins

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 100g ground almonds
  • 75g spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 45g soft light brown sugar plus about 4 teaspoons extra
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops of real almond essence
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 130g natural yoghurt
  • 170g cherries
  • 9 whole almonds
  • icing sugar for decoration (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Put paper baking cups into a muffin tray.
  2. Stone and halve the cherries.
  3. Place the ground almonds, spelt flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt into a bowl and stir lightly to combine. In another bowl, put the sugar (keeping aside the 4 teaspoonsful), eggs, extracts, melted butter and yoghurt and whisk to combine thoroughly. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry being careful not to overmix. Set aside 9 cherry halves and lightly fold in the rest.
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the 9 baking cups (I use an ice cream scoop).
  5. Top each muffin with a cherry half, an almond and a sprinkling of the reserved sugar.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. A skewer should remain clean or have a crumb clinging to it if the muffins are cooked. Cool on a rack and serve dusted with icing sugar if you like.

Variations: Substitute the melted butter with raw coconut oil, omit the eggs and increase the baking powder to 2 teaspoons to make them vegan. For a sweeter muffin, coat the cherries in a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup before adding to the mixture.

Cherry, almond, spelt muffin on mycustardpie.com

 

Joining in with Ren Behan’s lovely Simple and in Season event, Cooks Joy Bakefest #32 and Four Season food challenge (theme of red) from Delicieux, Eat Your Veg and The Spicy Pear.

What’s your favourite fruit? Do you buy fruit in season?

 

68 Comments
  1. June 26, 2014 9:14 am

    Perfectly scrumptious – I could taste your post Sally! Going to bake these this weekend if I can find the right cherries. Thanks for being the perfect culinary ingredient in my day!

    • June 27, 2014 8:28 am

      Good luck with finding the cherries – the supermarkets shelves have been strangely bare of them. Thanks for such a lovely comment too – it made my day.

  2. June 26, 2014 9:32 am

    Such a lovely post Sally! I can’t ever have any cherries left to bake ever, all of them get eaten as is!

    • June 27, 2014 8:29 am

      I’m loving all these comments showing me that we’re not the only ones who find cherries irresistible.

  3. June 26, 2014 9:55 am

    A lovely post. These healthy muffins look delicious! I have many early food memories…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • June 27, 2014 8:30 am

      Food and memory is indelibly linked for me too Rosa

  4. June 26, 2014 10:01 am

    Cherries are my favourite at the moment…I’m very keen on your low sugar cherry muffins…that will be happening soon:)

    • June 27, 2014 8:31 am

      I fully intended to take some pics of the cherries (as in your beautiful post) … alas they were gone so quickly

  5. glamorous glutton permalink
    June 26, 2014 11:15 am

    I love cherries in season, the British cherries are so sweet and, yes, juicy. They never last long enough to cook with. I doubt they’d last long enough to go in the fridge! Lovely breakfast muffins but I’d have to hide the cherries to get to cook with them : ) GG

    • June 27, 2014 8:32 am

      I hope there are some British cherries around when I arrive next week. I love some of the more unusual varieties that come from farmers markets – like the white ones.

  6. nancy@jamjnr permalink
    June 26, 2014 11:40 am

    I can’t seem to do anything other than wash the cherries and hand them over to be devoured so I’m the same as GG – I’d have no chance of cooking with them. But then you had kilos you said? Lucky you they are so cheap and abundant :)

    • June 27, 2014 8:33 am

      Kilos and kilos – and yes they are cheap and abundant….for about one week here!

  7. June 26, 2014 12:39 pm

    Delicious Sally! My parents had two cherrry trees in the garden, with the hammock strung between them. I would lie swinging in the hammock and use the momentum to help me spit the stones further!

  8. June 26, 2014 1:07 pm

    I love the look of thee tasty cherry spelt muffins! I love that you used a combo of spelt flour & almonds! Yum yum yummy!

    • June 27, 2014 8:34 am

      It did work really well Sophie – I thought the fact that they were quite wholesome and not very sweet would mean that I ate the lot – no chance, the teens wolfed them down. Massive approval.

      • June 27, 2014 11:50 am

        yeahh! They are on my list to make today! xxx

  9. ramblingtart permalink
    June 26, 2014 1:48 pm

    These look so good! And I love your first cherries memory. :-) My favorite fruit is whatever is in season – right now I’m loving apples and pears. :-)

    • June 27, 2014 8:35 am

      You can’t beat a good apple or a beautifully ripe pear – difficult to find.

  10. June 26, 2014 2:10 pm

    What a beautiful childhood memory. Most of my childhood memories are around food! Scrumptious recipe and I love your basket you served your muffins in too.
    Have a wonderful day Sally. :-) Mandy xo

    • June 27, 2014 8:36 am

      I’d forgotten I had that basket – bought in Jeddah of all places.

  11. June 26, 2014 2:16 pm

    I’m actually in heaven!
    0_o

  12. June 26, 2014 2:45 pm

    Love your bakes! Keep the creations coming! =D

  13. June 26, 2014 6:03 pm

    Mmmm, looking good :-)

    • June 27, 2014 8:40 am

      Thanks Sophie, MyDearBakes, CakesByola :)

  14. June 26, 2014 7:01 pm

    I can practically taste them!

    • June 27, 2014 8:49 am

      I read that you bought some good ones in Lulus.

  15. June 26, 2014 7:02 pm

    Such a beautiful memories, Sally.Your cherry almond muffins look perfect :) When I was young with my cousins we loved hanging cherries as earrings !

    • June 27, 2014 8:50 am

      Ha ha – yes my sister and I did that…I’d forgotten :)

      • crasterkipper permalink
        June 28, 2014 11:52 am

        I always think of you when I eat cherries. I love strawberries as they remind me of my birthday. I know what you mean about seasonal – the first proper nectarines this week perfumed the whole downstairs! Mmmmmmm :-)

  16. June 26, 2014 7:24 pm

    I love your story, Sally, I have a very clear memory of my brother and I working our way through a huge of amazing cherries as we walked around a market in Belgium with our parents, I can’t even remember how old I was, but I remember the huge wonderful cherries!

    • June 27, 2014 8:51 am

      What a vivid memory – do you think eating something good made it linger? I can remember biting into an apple straight from a tree when I was quite little.

  17. June 26, 2014 10:16 pm

    Mmmm yum! I ate most of a punnet of fresh cherries yesterday. I can’t wait until the fruit on my neighbours trees ripen. He’s got three cherry trees in his garden here in Shetland, of all places! Two in a polytunnel and one outdoors. The outdoor one, for the first time since it was planted 15 years ago, has fruit on it! Your muffins look lovely :)

    • June 27, 2014 8:52 am

      I didn’t know that cherries grew that far North or in polytunnels – thanks for the comment.

  18. Fishfingers for tea permalink
    June 26, 2014 11:44 pm

    My husband would be very happy with these! I buy them with the intention of baking with them but, like you, find that the majority are eaten so quickly that all cooking plans go out the window. I may need to hide some in the future so I get the chance!

    • June 27, 2014 8:52 am

      I thought I had hidden some – they were found!

  19. June 27, 2014 12:11 am

    They are looking gorgeous! If you have an Aldi or Lidl in UAE (those German supermarkets are all over Europe, so there’s hope) they sell cherries in syrup, which I use a lot. My mum used to preserve the fruit from our trees herself, especially morello cherries are absolutely brilliant for baking because their tanginess adds an extra dimension to a cake!

    • June 27, 2014 8:53 am

      We have Waitrose and Carrefour but not Aldi or Lidl – however sometimes see those jars from Eastern Europe. My Mum used to buy them when we were little although can’t remember eating them.

  20. andreamynard permalink
    June 27, 2014 1:55 am

    I’m loving cherries at the moment too – we just scoffed first bagful of English cherries this year, delicious. Your muffins look wonderful, wondering if they’d work with the gooseberries that I have lots of in the garden at the moment too. I tried the Diana Henry Spelt & gooseberry cake & it’s great in a similarly wholesome way.

    • June 27, 2014 8:54 am

      It’s not a sweet muffin mix but I’d love the tartness of the gooseberries. Sprinkle a bit more sugar on top.

  21. June 27, 2014 2:18 am

    I love cherries too much to have any left over to cook with them though the spelt and almond here must work so well with them. One of my earliest food memories is of hating baked beans and refusing to eat them as a child (I don’t mind them now!)

    • June 27, 2014 8:55 am

      School dinners – I can remember everything I didn’t like!

  22. June 27, 2014 4:58 am

    I can almost taste these! We had two cherry trees and would rush to put foil pie tins in the tree to keep the birds away.

    • June 27, 2014 8:55 am

      Love the picture you paint – and I always dreamed of having a cherry tree.

  23. June 27, 2014 11:54 am

    Wow, wish if I could just download and eat! Will try out baking someday.
    The only solace to the regions heat is the lovely cherries stacked on the shelves in the market. Your post reminded me of the first cherry tree blossom that I saw in Frankfurt, eating them fresh from the trees was an unforgettable experience.

  24. June 27, 2014 12:32 pm

    Cherries? Wonderful, especially in this climate eaten straight from the fridge. The best dish using them is still, I think, a French Clafoutis… As an aside, I had a girlfriend once who could put a knot in a cherry stalk with her tongue without detaching it from the cherry. Quite a party piece! Her father taught her the trick…

  25. June 27, 2014 3:28 pm

    I saw imported cherries here the other day which makes me wonder who will spend that much? I love cherries but Dave is not that fond of them so I seldom buy them when they are in season :)

  26. June 27, 2014 7:21 pm

    I am trying to eat more seasonally, so have also been awaiting cherries to arrive! These muffins look spectacular!

  27. June 27, 2014 8:11 pm

    Pinned! This sounds like the perfect cherry muffin recipe. Spelt flour and ground almonds are a regal mix. And they’re pretty!

  28. June 28, 2014 3:35 am

    Cherries are my absolute favorite fruit, will be making these muffins for sure. Pinned!

  29. June 28, 2014 4:00 am

    I love that I know just what those taste like. Delicious! Now, if I could just find some local cherries… We get the sour ones (which have their merits), but it’s rare to find sweet ones that weren’t shipped across the country.

  30. June 28, 2014 2:00 pm

    A great recipe with Cherries…Wish mine would last long enough to go into anything other than being polished off…Yes so look forward to cherries in the summer!! Bake with spelt flour quite a bit and would love to give these a try sometime;))

  31. June 28, 2014 5:11 pm

    Beautiful bake! I adore cherries and will be making something similar when our local cherry tree is ready to plunder… Stunning photos as usual :-)

  32. June 28, 2014 5:55 pm

    Sally these look amazing! thanks for sharing

  33. June 28, 2014 8:00 pm

    If the price of cherries ever goes down (hopefully soon) I will defo make these light looking little muffins. Cherries and ripe peaches are my favourite fruits, and if I am honest I like them best in their natural state and eaten outside where I can drip juice and not get fussed at. But once I get used to seeing either around while in season then I start looking for inspiration such as this.

    • daver001 permalink
      June 28, 2014 8:08 pm

      As a kid, we used to spend Easter holidays with my parents’ friends who lived in South Devon, overlooking the river Teign. Every breakfast there would be a large bowl of peaches freshly picked from their greenhouse. I can still recall their aroma and have never recaptured that taste of fruit freshly picked. Now, despite its glossy appearance, most fruity on sale tastes of nothing.

      • June 28, 2014 8:13 pm

        I grew up in Florida so was spoiled rotten with fresh peaches from our neighbouring state, Georgia (known as the “peach state” so that gives an idea of how awesome they are), although we were too warm down south for cherry growing. I agree that much of what we get is quite different to that which we can pluck for ourselves. I am looking forward to the fruits of my Victoria plum tree in the not too distant future.

  34. June 29, 2014 3:37 am

    Beautiful! We also tend to avoid the imported American ones that show up mid-year, choosing instead to wait for our locally grown (in our own state!) ones that show up in November. My youngest son is a cherry fiend – he’ll eat ten kilos on his own over the short two month season!

  35. June 29, 2014 1:48 pm

    These muffins look divine and I’d love to try them. My only problem is self-control. Cherries don’t last longer than 30 minutes in this house because the sweet, red, plump beauties are simply irresistible!

  36. June 29, 2014 3:35 pm

    I enjoyed reading about your food memory, mine revolve around my dad-hot chips in the city centre on a cold day or large vegetable omelettes on the living room floor with my cousins.

    Cherries are probably my favourite fruit-those bad custard apples. I couldn’t think of a better partner for cherries than almonds and for having used spelt your muffins look so light! I wish cherries were not so expensive though. Thank you for a gorgeous recipe x

  37. June 29, 2014 10:42 pm

    Delicious looking muffins. I would say my early food memory revolves around mangoes in our back yard in Africa. I remember sweetness and getting told off for being covered in mango juice!

  38. July 1, 2014 1:31 am

    You spat the pips in the lake? That’s a great picture I have of you now!! The blue background looks fabulous with the cherries in these cakes.

    My earliest food memory is also cherry related. We had a tree in the garden my grandad had grown when he was a child and I used to pick the cherries every spring. My dad sold the house in the mid 80s but I’d love to know if the tree is still there. I should look on Google Earth!

    • July 1, 2014 8:27 am

      Thanks for nice comments about pics – it’s hard with brown food sometimes! Glad your earliest memories were with cherries too – and yes – get googling

  39. Lauren Hairston permalink
    July 1, 2014 11:18 pm

    I originally read your title as “My Cherry Armour!” Took me a sec to realize, “duh! like the Stevie Wonder song.” My husband brought home a bag of peaches last night and I had one for lunch today. Biting into the fuzzy skin always reminds me of sitting out on my grandparents’ screen porch with the astroturf scratching my toes! I am a huge snob and will not buy out-of-season fruit if it can possibly be helped.

    • July 1, 2014 11:25 pm

      I don’t think that’s being a snob – I think that’s being sensible…tastes so gooooood. Thrilled that someone got the Stevie reference :)

  40. July 12, 2014 5:50 pm

    Sally, I enjoyed your post and loved the clever title! Thanks for sharing your memories. I don’t know if they’re available all over, but Rainier cherries here in the US are sweet and delicious in beautiful shades of yellow and red.

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