Brown Sugar Cherry Pound Cake

When Sarah calls you up and asks if you want to bake something, the correct answer is always yes.  Yes!  You’ll shout into the phone, not caring what day of the week it is or what you might have planned to do that afternoon.  New plan: bake with Sarah.

So that’s where I found myself one bright afternoon, sitting with Sarah in my kitchen nook, the two of us staring at a giant bowl of cherries on the countertop and leafing through a mound of cookbooks for inspiration.  Pound cake!  We decided.  What does Ina have to say about it?  We wondered.

Ina had a few things to say about her pound cake (honey, pure cake flour, no cherries, etc.), but between Sarah and my meddling the finished recipe was a far cry from the original – laced with almond extract, spelt flour, a healthy amount of brown sugar, and studded throughout with fresh cherry jewels.

We watched season 5 of the Great British Bake Off while our own cake baked, which is something I recommend doing, regardless of whether or not you make this recipe.  (A Mel/Sue sandwich is always a good idea, y’know?)  Anyway, despite all of the meddling, and the fact that we were distracted by television and missed our baking timers, the finished product – our brown sugar cherry pound cake – turned out to be quite simple and fresh, a perfectly dense and buttery cake, topped with a bright and cheerful glaze in the loveliest (slash trendiest) of summer hues.

Bottom line is it’s scrummy.  Will you try it?  On your mark, get set, BAKE!

Brown Sugar Cherry Pound Cake

Loosely adapted from Ina Garten’s Honey Vanilla Pound Cake recipe

This is a great recipe to make in summertime, when fresh cherries are at their finest, but if you get the hankering to make this any other time of year, frozen cherries will do just fine.

Also, Sarah and I used 1/2 cup spelt flour and 1 1/2 cups cake flour for our version, but if you can’t find spelt (or would rather not use it), all cake flour works, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks, or 16 tbsp) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour (or 1/2 cups cake flour plus 1/2 cup spelt flour, see note above)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 heaping cup pitted and quartered fresh cherries (can use frozen if necessary. Also, save a few whole cherries for decoration, if you’re so inclined)

for glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cherry juice or a drop of red food coloring

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a standard bundt pan (10-cup capacity — I use this one) with baking spray or butter.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the lemon zest and beat in vigorously.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large measuring cup, and add the extracts.  With the mixer on low speed, add the egg mixture slowly, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition to ensure the batter is as smooth as possible.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder, and very slowly mix together until the batter just comes together.  Fold in the cherries by hand (a rubber spatula works well here).  Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake the cake for about 60 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly poked, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert it onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

When the cake is fully cool, make the glaze: whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, milk (start with just 2 tablespoons milk, and add more at the end if you think you need it), almond extract, and cherry juice/food coloring until smooth.  Pour or drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake, letting it run down the sides (the glaze will firm up as it sits, so if it feels too runny at first, give it a few minutes to harden and then pour/drizzle it over the cake).  Top with a few fresh cherries for garnish, if you like.

The cake is best the day it’s made, but will keep well for about 4 days well-wrapped at room temperature.

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