Cherry and Almond Loaf

I developed this recipe because I wanted a sweet, non-yeasted (known in the US as ‘quick’) bread – perfect for a mid-morning tea break.

This is a dead easy GF loaf to make, combining two ingredients made for each other. I got the hankering for this when cherries were out-of-season, so as in my other recipe, this assumes frozen, not fresh (see footnote).

Makes: One loaf

Ingredients

  • 150g frozen cherries, defrosted in a sieve over a bowl overnight (with drained juices retained), chopped roughly
  • 35g ground almonds
  • 175g gluten-free flour
  • 175g sugar – caster or granulated; golden preferable over white
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (several seconds’ grating of fresh nutmeg if you have it)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, 1/2 of grated zest and 1/2 juice
  • 175g cold butter, cubed (plus additional for greasing the tin)
  • 3 large eggs (they should total 190g – 200g when weighed in their shells)
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • Flaked almonds, for decoration
  • Full-fat soft (i.e., cream) cheese, for serving – see footnote

Kit

  • A 2lb loaf tin
  • Baking/parchment paper, to line tin
  • 1 large and 2 small mixing bowls
  • Cooling rack

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Very lightly grease your tin and fully line with paper. (The sainted Delia, as always, is there with tips for doing this.)
  2. Put the cherries and ground almonds in a small bowl and mix well to thoroughly coat the fruit. This will help to keep the pieces from sinking to the bottom during baking.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, and lemon zest with a fork. Rub the butter in with your fingers, until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Beat the eggs in a small bowl with the almond extract and lemon juice, then add to the dough. Remember, this is gluten-free so you don’t have to worry about over-mixing – in fact, incorporate as much air as you can.
  5. Add the cherries and stir carefully until they are evenly distributed.
  6. Spread the dough in your prepared tin, smooth the top, and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Turn the tin halfway through for even baking – and sprinkle the top with flaked almonds at the halfway point. It’s done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Leave the loaf tin on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out.

Serving Suggestions
This loaf is excellent served either warm or cold. I recommend serving it with cream cheese beaten with the drained cherry juices, spread onto each slice (as you would butter on regular bread). Sprinkle each slice with some more flaked almonds.

‘Full-fat soft’ v ‘cream’ cheese
As I said over here in my other recipe, save yourself money and buy the budget no-name ‘full-fat soft cheese’ instead of a branded ‘cream cheese’. It bakes and spreads the same way, and is miles cheaper.

Fresh Cherry Alternative
If cherries are in season, stone them before measuring 150g. As fresh are firmer than defrosted frozen, I’d recommend chopping them more finely, and use 1 tsp cherry extract to beat with the cream cheese for serving.

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