Friday, February 18, 2011

Cranberry Almond Pound Cake

For as long as I can remember, I've had a love affair with desserts that are flavored with almond.   It might be my German roots, but I have a particular weakness fondness for marzipan.  Whenever I see a recipe that pairs cherries and almond, I usually bookmark it for when that almond craving hits.  I also learned to appreciate that cranberries and almond are another tasty combination, when I found a family favorite recipe for Cranberry-Almond Granola.

Shortly after Christmas, I had set aside the remaining half of a bar of almond paste that I used to make an Easy German Stollen-- I was waiting for an excuse to use it.  I had  good fortune, when one of my favorite blogs that I follow, "2 Stews",  posted a recipe for a Cranberry Almond Pound Cake.   As I began to read the ingredients list, I was pleased to know that I had frozen cranberries (I always keep a few bags of fresh cranberries in our freezer, since they're a seasonal item).  I also saw that this recipe uses Amaretto liqueur, which is a staple in my pantry.   I started to feel my pulse race, when I saw that sour cream is used in the batter, because I love the subtle tang and moisture that it gives to cake recipes. I could almost taste a winning combination of ingredients, and I made the decision to shut down my laptop and bake this-- pronto!  I had everything I needed:

(A printable recipe is at the bottom of this post.)  I measured unbleached all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

The first step I took was to measure 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 2 Tablespoons Amaretto. I heated the Amaretto and dried cranberries in a small saucepan. I let it cool, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has soaked up all of the liquid.

NOTE: The original recipe says to do this 2 hours in advance, I found that the cranberries cooled quite well, in the 20 minutes it took to prepare the cake batter:

Preheat the oven to 325F and prepare your pan with Baker's Joy Non-Stick Spray. Of course you can use good old flour and shortening, but I've never had a bundt cake disaster, ever since I stocked up on this fantastic baking product.

Next: Using my food processor (or you can use a mixer and paddle), I combined the  almond paste, almond extract and sugar until the mixture looked like wet sand.  I like to use LorAnn Almond Bakery Emulsion, because the flavors aren't lost in the baking.  (I also use LorAnn Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor in most of my cakes... I love them!) Of course, you can use pure almond oil-- and if you don't like almond, then use vanilla.

For the batter: Add softened unsalted butter and  mix at medium speed until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl with rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one by one, beating until blended. On low speed add ⅓ dry ingredients and ⅓ sour cream; scrape bowl with a spatula. Repeat twice more. Finally beat for 20 seconds, until smooth. 

 Fold in all berries. Fold the batter into prepared pan. Level the top with spatula and tap pan gently to evenly distribute batter into the pan.

 I found that I had extra batter, so I made two small tea loaves, to give to friends.

There is a glaze recipe, but I decided to simply use powdered sugar. 

I toted this cake off to the cooking class that I taught-- sort of an "Amuse Bouche" intro to my students... well, I also didn't want to be tempted to eat more than a slice, as I've lost 20 pounds and plan to keep it that way!

TASTING NOTES:   This is an easy recipe, though there are a couple of steps in hydrating the dried cranberries with the Amaretto and making the almond paste-sugar.  The batter comes together very quickly.
The cake is very moist, and just a little dense-- but not over-the-top.  The flavor of the almonds, I think, could be increased by adding more almond extract. But remember, I'm a lover of anything almond.  I think dried cherries could be used, or really any kind of fruit.  Would I make this again? You bet! My family and friends approved of this recipe. I think you will, too.

Like most of you, I subscribe to a lot of foodie magazines, and I buy more than my fair share of cookbooks. I just love it when I find a recipe that a fellow food blogger has shared, and it delivers as promised.  Thanks, 2 Stews, for sharing this delectable cake!

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Susan said...

Oh Debby, this is a winner! Beautiful. I think the almond 'love' just might be a German thing. I am very drawn to anything almond-marzipan. I will be baking this!!!

Phoo-D said...

What a gorgeous cake! I love cranberries in cake and with almond too? Marvelous.

Anonymous said...

Debby, that cake does look very tempting. I agree about dried cherries being a good substitute, as they go so well with almonds, even though I stock the cranberries and use them far more frequently.

Good for you on your 20 lbs.!



Joanne said...

This cake is gorgeous! I have a serious love of almond flavored desserts as well..and thank god I have some cranberries in the fridge to make this with!

Sue said...

Hi...I just discovered your blog from Cathy over at Wives with have some pretty amazing recipes! I was having lunch with a blog friend today and she was telling me about the cranberry/almond poundcake that she just made and an hour later you posted your recipe...perfect timing! I look forward to trying it and your cauliflower recipe too!

The Glamorous Gourmet said...

Wow that's one gorgeous looking pound cake and I adore almonds and cranberries! Can't wait to give it a try - thanks!

Jackie said...

Hi Debby

Did you use any of the buttery sweet dough in this recipe, if so, how much did you use.

bellini valli said...

My mom still makes a poundcake I make at my own home for the holidays. I think it reminds her of me since I am not there at Christmas.

roz said...

So nice to see a great cranberry recipe this time of year. I've got so many that I needed another idea on how to use them all! And in a poundcake . . . wonderful!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Gorgeous! I'm a sucker for big, beautiful Bundt cakes and anything that contains cranberry.

Kay Heritage said...

I love using emulsions for my baked goods, too! Love this beautiful cake, Debby!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This sounds very much like a wonderful cake I just made from a neighbor's recipe - but yours adds those dried cranberries in addition to the fresh - and amaretto too! I think I've just found a new love.

2 Stews said... nice to see my sister's recipe being shared yet again! Yours looks beautiful. I agree that fresh and dried cherries as a substitute for the cranberries would taste wonderful. I can't wait until they come into season.