Cherry Blossom Cake

Studying in the sunshine

Studying in the sunshine

Things aren’t going terribly well with my PhD at the moment. Everything was going swimmingly up until the end of April and then they sort of… stalled. There are reasons for that – they involve my job and family matters and generally being utterly stressed beyond belief but that’s not really important. The problem is, I’ve not done enough. The literature review which is my current big project is inching along but really, incredibly slowly – I’m learning to be happy with 500 words for an evening’s work when it feels like I should be cracking through much more than that. But it’s not just churning the words out, I’m struggling to write in a way that demonstrates that I understand what I’m saying and what it means for advancing knowledge of the uncanny valley… Fundamentally, it doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere or making any progress. It’s frustrating and upsetting and has been making me even more stressed and depressed.

What I need is time. Lots more time. So, I’ll be requesting a bit more – suspending my registration while I’m taking on extra duties at work because frankly, at the moment it was not looking good for me actually finishing this thing. New submission deadline will probably be some time in December. Or January. *shudder* I am dreading winter coming back. I’m still chilled through from the last one!

Still, I had one single solitary day’s leave left to take this year, so I’ve booked it off today and I’ve moved my laptop out into the garden so I can have a change of scene, enjoy the sun and work through the next set of papers. So, neuropsychological theories for why the almost-human creeps us out. Let’s do this thing.

But a day at home wouldn’t be right without a bit of a bake too. After finding the pretzel cookie recipe in July Good Food, I hit gold again with this beautiful cherry blossom cake! (I have a bit of a thing for cherry blossom this year, it seems.) If I’d found it earlier, I’d have also tried out a new website I’ve found for converting cake recipes for smaller tins. The original recipe is for a 23cm tin – I have a 15cm one so made some little mini versions as well.

Cherry Blossom Cake
Makes a 15cm cake + 6 small cakes


For the cake

  • 300g/11oz cherries, stoned and roughly chopped
  • 250g/9oz polenta
  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 250g/9oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 100g/4oz ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 150ml pot natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • Juice 1/2 orange

For the syrup

  • Juice 1 orange
  • 3 tbs golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water

For the cherry icing

  • 50g/2oz cherries, stoned, plus extra cherries on stalks to serve
  • 175g/6oz icing sugar


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140c fan/gas 3. Use a little of the butter to grease a deep 23cm cake tin and line with baking parchment. Mix the cherries and 50g of the polenta then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the remaining polenta, the almonds, baking powder, yoghurt, orange blossom water, orange juice and cherry mix, and stir until everything is just combined. Tip into the tin, smooth the top and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. (Or For me, tip half into the tin and half into prepared muffin cases!)
  3. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Boil the orange juice and sugar for a few mins until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the orange blossom water and let cool. When the cake is done, remove from the oven and pour over the syrup. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minds then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the cherry icing, put the cherries and icing sugar in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Drizzle all over the cake, then top with whole cherries.

This was a bit of an alarming bake! It’s quite a loose mixture and the little muffin cases kind of relaxed all over the inside of the oven 😦 Still, once cooled, syrupped and iced, they’ve come out ok, and the cake itself is a stunner, look!

Cherry cake

Cherry cake

A beautiful cake for a day in the sunshine. And what’s more, my word count for today stands at just over 2,000 words. Perhaps I should treat myself with cake?!

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