Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cherry Almond Coffee Cake

I've previously mentioned that other people's blogs can be quite inspiring. I actually have a whole email folder chock-full of blogger's recipes that I've mailed to myself as a reminder to eventually cook them. This recipe, from Hungry Cravings, was emailed and made almost right away, partially because it sounded delicious, and partially because I had some cherries that needed to be used up.

I have a sentimental fondness for coffee cake, as my grandmother used to make it on a regular basis. Hers was quite different from this recipe--it had a swirl of cinnamon inside (I could never get enough of that part), and a crumbly top. Come to think of it, maybe I should try to track down that recipe.

This cherry coffee cake is similar to my grandmother's coffee cake in that it has a dense, crumbly crumb, and it's sweet without being too sweet. It's nice to eat for breakfast, as a snack, or for dessert. It's not exactly the kind of cake that you just whip up in a jiffy, but it probably freezes well, and it probably gets easier to make each time it's attempted. This makes a pretty big cake, so be sure to have some willing sharers.

If I make this again, I'll make just a couple little changes. Namely, I'll macerate the cherries in some Bourbon or brandy, and I'll swirl some cherry preserves through the batter. These changes are reflected in the recipe written below, but feel free to omit them if you prefer a  more purist approach.

Cherry-Almond Coffee Cake
(Slightly Adapted from Hungry Cravings)

  • 7 ounces (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 11 ¼ ounces cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 7 ½ ounces light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 ounces sliced almonds
  • ¾ pound cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon Or Brandy
  • 6 ounces sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • The zest of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 8 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
  • A jar (about 11 ounces) of cherry preserves

Preheat the oven to 350┬║F. Thoroughly butter a 9×3-inch round springform pan. In a medium bowl, sift together 9 ounces of the flour and the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

In another medium bowl, whisk together 3 ½ ounces of the brown sugar, the remaining 2 ¼ ounces flour, and the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Melt 2 ounces of the butter and add to the bowl. Toss in the almonds.
     In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the remaining 5 ounces butter, sugar, and remaining 4 ounces brown sugar on high for 3 to 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined and then beat in the lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract.

    Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then ½ of the sour cream, then 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the remaining ½ of the sour cream, and then the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing on low for only a few seconds after each addition until just combined, and stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do not overmix.

    Transfer to the cake pan and spread evenly. In dollops, place the preserves on the top of the batter. Using a butter knife, mix the preserves into the batter so that the preserves form a swirly sort of pattern.

    Arrange the cherries over the batter and then spread the almond mixture evenly over the batter and cherries in the cake pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cake start to shrink away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove the sides and bottom of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. (Don't forget this part--I cooked my cake properly, but because I forgot to take it out of the pan, it ended up being overcooked.) Cut into portions and serve.

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