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Years ago on a holiday in Tasmania my husband and I came across a farm selling pick-your-own cherries. We thought we were in heaven. Both born and bred in the tropics we had never seen a cherry tree let alone picked our own cherries. We picked and ate and enjoyed. The farmer told us they weren’t cherries for eating more for preserving and jam making. We didn’t care and we still have great memories of climbing the old wooden ladders leaning against the big old cherry trees, our hands stained pink matching our stained lips. It really was a novelty to us.
When I came across this recipe in “A Baker’s Odyssey” by Greg Patent I relived that day and thought how perfect those cherries would have been in a cake like this. Piskota is a Hungarian sponge cake in this case topped with cherries – sour cherries if you have them. Piskota can be topped with any fruit but in Hungary cherries are the most popular according to Greg who learnt this recipe from Vera Eisenberg, teacher of cooking and baking and a food stylist who immigrated to the US more than forty years ago. I love the way it looks with the cherries forming dark craters in the spongy yellow cake.
I made half the quantity given and baked it in a 20 cm springform pan but I will give it to you as it appears in  “A Baker’s Odyssey”.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons allpurpose flour.
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
10 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 pound (500g) sour or sweet cherries, pitted or other fruit.
Icing (Confectioners) sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter a 13 x 9 x2 inch baking pan and dust the bottom with flour.
Sift together flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Whip the egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and pale. Gradually add  1/2 cup sugar. Increase the speed and beat for about five minutes until pale and thick. Add the lemon zest and extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture by hand. Transfer this mixture to another bowl and wash and dry the mixer bowl ( you are going to need this to whip your egg whites).

So, in the clean bowl place the egg whites and a pinch of salt. Beat until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until they whites are creamy and thick. 
Stir one quarter of the whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites in 3 lots. Fold gently just until no whites show.
Scrape the batter into the prepare pan and top with cherries. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is puffed and golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely on a wire rack.
Dust with confectioners sugar or serve with vanilla icecream as I have.
This cake is not sweet but quite nice with the vanilla icecream.

It's true, you know, Italy really is a food lovers…
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