It so happens that I found myself at home this past weekend, with a luscious bowl of cherries, which are in season now, time on my hands, and the promise of a summer shower later in the day . . . the perfect time to do a little baking.
I've underestimated cherries most of my life. At first, I used to know them only as the “red fruit” in a can of Libby's Fruit Cocktail, or as the nauseatingly sweet syrup in cough medicine. Then, one day, I was introduced to “real” cherries in a freshly baked Black Forest cake, while attending a dinner-theatre performance of Cabaret. When the Master of Ceremonies began singing “Willkomen, Bienvenue, Welcome . . . ” I felt like it should have been me singing! They were superb! The show was pretty good, too. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
If you are planning to experiment with fresh cherries, you'll need a cherry pitter. It's a little tool that removes the pit from the cherry quickly and efficiently. It was also fun to use. I see a lot of cherry desserts in my future (cherry pie comes to mind right away, but we'll leave that for another post.) The one in the picture above is from Williams-Sonoma. I'm told that it's also good for pitting olives. How about that? I can play with olives, too!
The bread turned out delicious! The cherry and almond flavors complement each other beautifully, and it was very moist. This one is a keeper. Here's the recipe:
1½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour a 8" x 4" loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Gently fold in the cherries, and mix until well coated.
3. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients and lightly beat with a fork until blended.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just moistened. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes in loaf pan, then invert into serving platter and allow bread to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
“Life is just a bowl of cherries, don't take it serious, it's mysterious. Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh, and laugh at love, love a laugh, laugh and love.” —Bob Fosse