Baking: A simple and quick recipe for perfect buns

This go-to almond cherry buns recipe is as sweetly delicious as it looks

My friend moved back home to Greystones in Co Wicklow a few years ago and since her husband wasn’t from the area, he was invited to join a male-only book club and he loves it. I also enjoy the monthly book club I attend which is a great excuse to get out in the evening and spend some time talking about good books. The rest of the time is filled with lively chatter over a glass of wine or tea and cake.

Since all the book club participants work outside the home, we often marvel how a cake is rustled up in haste as the hostess welcomes us (sometimes slightly frazzled, still in her work clothes) with the children already tucked up in bed.

Over the years, successful cakes have been homemade, shop bought or defrosted. The baking standard is always high, so lots of working-mum anecdotes and tips are generously shared.

One of the book clubbers once made her mum’s “go to” recipe – a delicious cherry cake. She said that when all the tennis club ladies were compiling ideas for their recipe cookbook, they insisted Eileen include her cherry cake. My kids love cherries, and maraschino cherries are my favourite for baking (you can buy them in small jars preserved in syrup).


A simple recipe you can knock together quickly for a cake sale

My own latest “go to” recipe resembles a bakewell tart, but often I do not have the time to make pastry, so I created a bakewell-style bun. It has a rich almond sponge but it was the inspiration I took from my friend’s cherry cake that made these buns a hit in our house. The icing couldn’t be easier and it is a simple process of mixing icing sugar and water together to give a smooth paste.

I knew my kids would enjoy icing them. When they place the cherry on top they feel like they are creating a masterpiece. You can even ice them straight from the oven while still fresh and hot.

If you have been looking for a simple recipe that you can knock together quickly for a cake sale, afternoon tea or for a mid-morning break after sport and the book club, of course, these are perfect. Any leftover buns will freeze well too.

Cherry Almond Buns

Makes 12

70g maraschino cocktail cherries, drained (or glacé cherries)
140g butter, softened
140g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly whisked
140g self-raising flour, sieved
140g ground almonds
½ tsp almond essence
100g icing sugar, sieved
3-4 tbsp hot water


1 Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Fill a 12-hole muffin tray with paper muffin cases.

2 Slice six cherries in half and set aside for decorating the tops of the buns. Slice the remaining cherries into quarters and set aside.

3 In a mixing bowl, use a hand-held whisk to cream the butter and sugar together until well-combined, smooth and pale. Gradually mix in the egg, flour, ground almonds and almond essence. Lastly fold in the cherry quarters.

4 Spoon the mixture into medium-size muffin cases dividing it equally between all 12 cases (fill each to about two thirds full).

5 Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until risen and golden on top.

6 Remove from the oven and allow to cool (if you have time). To decorate, stir just enough hot water into the icing sugar to give it a bright white, yet creamy consistency. Spread the icing over the very centre of each bun. Lastly place one of the reserved cherry halves on top of the icing. They are best eaten the day they are made, but can be stored for two days in an airtight container.

Variation: If you don't want to add icing, these also look dainty with the tops dusted with icing sugar and a cherry placed in the centre. Other fruits such as blackberries, blueberries or raspberries can be substituted for cherries in the sponge mixture.