Cherry & almond polenta cake

Cherries are at their sweetest right now so they're a real pleasure to cook with, releasing their distinctive pop of juiciness when you bite into them. This almond and polenta cake is brilliant with any fruit, I often make it with raspberries and blackberries, but I think it works particularly well with cherries - as we all know, almonds and cherries are a food match made in heaven. It's also gluten-free so a great option if you have a dietary requirement to contend with.

If you're feeling particularly devil-may-care, splash some Kirsch, Amaretto or grappa over your slice of cake before eating, you won't regret it.

Cherry & almond polenta cake

Cherry & almond polenta cake

Serves 12

225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g golden caster sugar
3 medium eggs
125g ground almonds, plus 2 tbsp
125g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
350g yellow or red cherries, stones removed and halved, plus a few extra to decorate
1 tbsp demerara sugar
Crème fraîche, to serve

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3 and grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy and pale, then beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in the almonds, polenta, baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and lemon juice and zest.

Toss the cherry halves with the 2 tbsp ground almonds (this should prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Pour half the cake mix into the tin, then arrange half the cherries on top. Spread over the rest of the cake mix, then sprinkle the remaining cherries on top. Bake for 50–60 minutes, sprinkling over the demerara after 30 minutes. When the cake is golden and just firm in the middle, remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, a few extra cherries and a splash of your favourite liqueur if you dare...

Cherry & almond polenta cake
Rainier cherries

Rainier cherries