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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cherry-Almond Bread with "Amaretto" Glaze



Once upon a time, I was tasked with bringing a breakfast treat to a potluck.

Thinking about my pantry, I remembered I had a large bag of dried cherries needing to be put to good use. I wondered if I could make some sort of fruity sweet bread using the dried cherries in lieu of raisins or other fruit. Then I thought about how well cherry and almonds go together, and voila! Cherry-Almond Bread was born.

I searched the internet and cobbled together a recipe based on a few separate sites. I liked the idea of using an Amaretto glaze, but since I don’t drink alcohol and really didn’t want to go buy a bottle for just one recipe, I chose to improvise.

I brought the bread to the potluck and one particular co-worker raved about it so much that next time around, I made an entire loaf and sent it home, just for her and her family.

Here’s the recipe:

Cherry-Almond Bread with “Amaretto” Glaze

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 cup chopped almonds

Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. almond extract
2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Grease 3 standard loaf pans, or 2 standard pans and 1 mini pan.

2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla; mix until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture, cherries, and almonds to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.

5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar with almond and vanilla extract. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup.

6. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Drizzle with “amaretto” glaze so that it coats the top and runs down the sides.

Notes:

• I found an amaretto glaze recipe that called for 2 cups powdered sugar and 6-7 tablespoons amaretto. I used almond extract instead, but because it’s kinda potent, I toned it down a bit with vanilla extract.

• Make sure to have your dry ingredients mixed ahead of time. Once the eggs, milk, vanilla and sour cream go into the mixture, the batter starts to get lumpy and weird. I worried that I’d somehow curdled it. I had to move fast and start adding the dry stuff right away to keep it from wigging out more.

• The cherries regained their moisture during the cooking process and rather than hard chewy cherry bits in the bread, you end up with nice succulent fruit with tons of flavor.

• I chopped half of the almonds up real fine, and the other half I left chopped coarsely. I liked the way it turned out – a bit of crunch, but not too much. You can also sprinkle a bit of slivered almonds over the top of the glazed loaves, if that floats your boat.

• This recipe makes a LOT. Two full regular-sized loaves and one mini loaf, or 3 regular loaves filled about 2/3 full. Oof!

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