Cherries. Fresh, ripe and wonderful cherries. Sweet, succulent and gorgeous cherries; a love so strong that years ago I gave into this being not just cherry season but embracing that my fingertips will be stained crimson and my apron will be splattered as if Jackson Pollack was my sous chef season. It’s all good. I love them sweet, sour and bing. Their pits are the pits but that won’t stop me.
Each year when fresh cherries flood the local markets I am determined to find new and wonderful ways to use them. In years past I’ve been lucky; this Cherry Ricotta Pie is amazing; a cherry version of the Sidecar Cocktail is not just tasty but gorgeous and my own yearly effort includes making maraschino cherries; eschewing the more plastic pink orbs from the grocery. I was itching to use a new ceramic loaf pan that I got for Mother’s Day (my kids now find gifts easy; photo props work every time!), the transition from a cake to a loaf pan was easy enough and the results were fabulous. A pound cake that is dense and moist but not overly sweet that is filled with nuts and fruit; it’s already on my favorites list for seasons to come.
I still recall vividly the trip to Washington, D.C. many years ago for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. The trees are gorgeous and their aroma fills the spring air with an intoxicating scent. That experience cultivated in planting a cherry tree upon our return to our home in North Carolina and I continued that tradition in the home I just sold. Sadly, that ‘cherry’ tree turned out to be a crab apple tree (a nursery mistake) but a girl can still dream and I’m hoping the next place will have the space to continue that tradition. The excitement of the first blossoms heralding spring is a memorable experience on its’ own but the abundance of fresh cherries during the summer become the real icing on the cake…or maybe I should say cherries in the pie!
Elle’s recipe called for maraschino cherries but I chose to use fresh, chopped sweet cherries. Without them I would probably next use the maraschino cherries I made last year; I’ve got about a cup left and it’s time to make a new batch. Yes, there will be a repeat performance of this recipe; it was terrific. Not too sweet and filled with big chunks of cherries and toasted walnuts; actually I would say it was perfect!
- 2 sticks of butter (1/2 lb), softened
- 1 & ½ cups sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup plain or honey Greek yogurt (I am a slave to Greek Gods Yogurt with Honey)
- 1 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
- 1 cup cherries, halved (fresh, maraschino, from cans or jars...they all work!)
- Heat oven to 350F. Generously butter a large loaf pan.
- Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy; add the eggs one at a time and blend well.
- Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Combine the flour and baking powder; add to the wet mixture and blend just until moist.
- Fold in the walnuts and cherries. Pour into prepared pan and bake for one hour (cake tester should come out clean).
- Run a knife around the outer edge and allow to cool in the loaf pan on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and remove slices as needed.