Friday, January 7, 2011

Cranberry Almond Pound Cake

I called my sister Sandy a few weeks ago and she couldn't talk right away, she was busy mixing almond paste into pound cake batter. I stood still, wondering why I had ever moved from Ohio. I wanted that cake. Of course, I had to ask about it when she called back. She described the Cranberry Almond Pound Cake she was making to take to a family gathering. Being in New England during an impending blizzard, I listened intently. It was full of all of the flavors we think about for holiday goodness and comfort like almonds, cranberries, liqueur, butter and sugar. I had to have the recipe and she sent it to me right away. My oven had been very busy turning out my own divinities, but I decided to make it for the New Year. I had several parties I could take it to, as well as a house full of hungry and appreciative 20 year olds. Even though it is festive for the holidays, it is really a good recipe year round. I think it would also taste delicious with cherries. It is made in a Bundt pan, and I used my Heritage Bundt cake pan. As I was filling it up, it seemed like I had some extra batter, so I decided to make 2 small loaves. Smart decision. They were all filled up to the top after baking. The warm loaves were devoured before they had time to cool and we all watched in awe as the larger cake, with its graceful winding shape fell effortlessly from the pan. Like hearing the sound of snow falling in the dark, it made us stop and watch. My son and his friends had to leave for their drive back to college before I could cut the larger cake. I think we'll have to make it again......soon.

Cranberry Almond Pound Cake

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces almond paste, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

Two hours before baking, heat the Amaretto and dried cranberries in a small saucepan. Let cool, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has soaked up all of the liquid.

Preheat oven to 325, oil pan with Pam with Flour cooking spray.

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using the paddle of an electric mixer on low speed, combine almond paste, almond extract and sugar until mixture looks like wet sand. Add butter; mix at medium speed until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs, one by one, beating until blended. On low speed add 1/3 dry ingredients and 1/3 sour cream; scrape bowl with a spatula. Repeat twice more. Finally beat for 20 seconds, until smooth. Fold in all berries.

Fold batter into prepared pan. Level top with spatula and tap pan gently to evenly distribute batter into the pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack. Make the glaze while the cake is cooling.


2 tablespoons milk* or Amaretto
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
*If using milk, you may also add a few drops of almond extract.

Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl and slowly blend in milk or Amaretto with a fork until smooth. Drizzle the warm cake with the glaze. Once cool, transfer to a serving platter.

Notes: If you want to make a smaller cake, divide the recipe in half and use loaf pans.
I used my food processor to blend the almond paste with the sugar, and substituted fat free sour cream for the regular sour cream.

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