Some recipes come from inspiration while other recipes are simply born out of need as this one was. I first made this loaf years ago. Cherry season had just begun in Umbria and I was really craving some fresh, sweet cherries. I really do love cherries, but I like mine firm and eaten soon after they are picked. I sent my husband to the store to pick up a couple of items for me and told him to get cherries as well if they looked good.
I generally prefer to buy almost all of my produce from the outdoor markets rather than the corner grocery store, but thought I’d take a chance this one time. My husband did indeed bring home a big bag full of cherries, but for me they were overripe and just not the kind I love to nibble on. Not wanting to let an entire bag of cherries go to waste, I decided to bake something with them instead.
Since almonds and cherries go so well together, I adapted a simple loaf recipe I use often to include both ground almonds and my overripe cherries and I really was pleased at how well it turned out. While firm, tart cherries are great for eating, ripe sweet cherries are wonderful in baked goods!
You could also use another fruit in place of the cherries, such as raspberries, chopped fresh apricots or peaches. Please note that the yolks of Italian eggs tend to be much darker in color than those of North American eggs which is why this loaf has such a golden color. I make this loaf year round, using sweet or tart frozen cherries when they are not in season. Luckily, frozen cherries work perfectly in this recipe!
- 1 Cup Blanched Almonds, Finely Ground
- 1 1/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 (or 1 Stick) Unsalted, Softened Butter
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
- 2 Cups Pitted Ripe Cherries, Cut Into Quarters
- Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan In one bowl, mix together the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder.
- In another bowl beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed with a hand or table mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each.
- Add the almond extract and mix.
- Add 1/2 the flour mixture and mix briefly.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat just until you can no longer see any flour.
- Add the cherries and stir them through the mixture.
- Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan, sprinkle sliced almonds on top, and bake for about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.
- If the loaf begins to brown too much before it has completed baking, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
- Cool 15 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.