From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We are back and I have many a tale and recipe to share with you in a series that I'll begin tomorrow. I had planned to start those features today, but I had an outstanding obligation to the volunteers who have been working phones for Tuesday's election. I still haven't been to the grocery store, so I had to use what I had on hand to come up with the cakes I made for them today. This is a simple, quite basic recipe that produces a really lovely cake. On an even happier note, it gave me the opportunity to use a jar of maraschino cherries that's been staring me in the face every time I open my pantry door. I am, as you have probably surmised, not a big fan of said cherries and, truth be told, I'm not very creative when it comes to using them in anything other than a Shirley Temple. I decided to use them because I knew they would add a lovely jewel-tone color to the loaves and appeal to those of the crew who like really sweet things as well. My only caution for those of you who decide to make the cakes, is to make sure you pat the cherries dry before you add them to the batter. While little girls love pink cakes and they might work for Valentines Day, I suspect the country at large is simply not ready for them. The cake is appropriate for brunch, tea or dessert and I think those of you who like sweet things will really enjoy the loaves. Here is how the cakes are made.
Cream Cheese and Cherry Loaf Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/4 cups maraschino cherries, drained, quartered and patted dry
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour two (9 x 5 x 2-inch) loaf pans.
2) Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
3) Put butter, cream cheese and sugar in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat ingredients on medium-high speed until mixture is very light in color — almost white — and texture is fluffy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl once during process to insure that butter is evenly incorporated.
4) Crack eggs into a liquid measure and add vanilla and almond extract. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour mixture into bowl allowing eggs to fall in one at a time. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl.
5) Add sifted dry ingredients on low speed. Stop mixing as soon as flour is incorporated. Fold cherries and nuts in by hand using a stiff spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
6) Place pans in middle of oven and bake 60-75 minutes rotating pans halfway through baking time. When cake is finished, a wooden skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Allow cakes to cool 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely and cover with a thick dusting of confectioners' sugar. Yield: 16 servings.
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