Rustic sweets like this brandied cherry-almond loaf cake are supremely comforting and nice to have on hand this time of year to serve the unexpected guest. This cake ages well so make a day ahead of when you plan to serve it – the flavors really develop overnight, and soaking dried cherries in brandy plumps them with notes of toasted vanilla. Lightly dust warm slices with powdered sugar, or soak a few extra tablespoons of cherries in brandy to spoon over each slice.
Brandied Cherry-Almond Loaf Cake
1/3 cup brandy
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
1/3 cup almonds
1 2/3 cups cake flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Combine brandy and cherries in a small bowl; soak one hour until cherries are soft and plump. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with nonstick spray. Toast almonds in a single layer until golden and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then pulse toasted almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Whisk together ground almonds, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, almond, and vanilla until well blended. Combine yogurt and milk together in a small bowl. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat just until combined. Add yogurt mixture, then finish with remaining flour mixture. Gently fold in cherries and brandy. Pour batter in prepared pan and smooth top; sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes; carefully remove from pan and cool completely. Wrap well in foil and age overnight before slicing and serving. Store wrapped leftovers at room temperature up to 3 days.
*Make your own cake flour: place 2 tablespoons cornstarch in an empty 1-cup measure, then top up with flour. Sift the mixture several times to evenly distribute the cornstarch.
Yield – 12 slices (serving size: 1 slice)
Calories – 190
Carbs – 27