Sunday, August 10, 2014

What's Cooking Good Lookin'? Recipe Feature: Vintage Cherry Nut Cake

With our cross-country move having just taken place, we had my future MIL (mother in-law) come out to celebrate her birthday. Luckily, I was an unpacking fiend so our home was mostly unpacked and most importantly the guest suite was the peaceful mini retreat it was intended to be. Already itching to get into the kitchen and create some goodies, I inquired as to what the my MIL's favorite dessert was. Answer: a cherry nut cake that only her mother could perfect- the challenge was on! Instead of trying to re-create something I'd likely never be able to do, I instead hunted down similar recipes and added some of my own baking flair to pay homage to the original.

  • 2 Jars of Maraschino Cherries w/out Stems (drain but set aside the excess liquid)
  • 3 1/4 Cups Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Small Package of Chopped Walnuts (you can do more or less)
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • Just a drop or 2 of Almond Extract
  • 2/3 Cup Milk (I used skim)
  • 1 Cup Butter (unsalted & room temperature)
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 16oz Powder Sugar
  • A few drops of Red Food Coloring
  • 3 Tablespoons of reserved Maraschino Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (cut into Cubes- room temperature) 
Cake Instructions:
  1. Oven should be pre-heated to 350 degrees, center rack.
  2. Take Two Round Cake Pans- I use silicone ones like these, Grease them with butter or spray- I prefer butter- be generous!
  3. Take 1.5 of the jarred cherries and chop- either in a food processor or by hand ( I did by hand which took forever, and stained my hands- temporarily of course!)
  4. Once chopped either strain or go straight to patting them dry with a few paper towels. Next add the chopped cherries to a small bowl with 1/4 cup of the flour. You are continuing to dredge out the excess moisture.
  5. Next combine the dry ingredients, 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking soda, itty bitty pinch of salt- mix together & set aside
  6. Time to cream! Mix on a high speed, 2 cups sugar with 1 cup butter, beat until fluffy. Next add the 4 eggs, and 2 drops of almond extract and continue to beat for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the chopped cherries to the butter, sugar ,egg mixture- beat for about 1 minute.
  8. Next (choose which bowl is largest or pull out a new one) Alternate beating in the wet & dry ingredients- while slowly incorporating the 2/3 cup milk and 1/3 cup of the excess cherry juice.
  9. Once combined, stir in the chopped walnuts.
  10. Divide batter equally among your prepared rounds.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes (will vary depending on your oven and type of pan you use)
  12. Cake is ready when an inserted toothpick comes out clean, cake will appear to have shrunk away slightly from edge of pans, and the top should bounce back when gently pushed in the center.
  13. Cool just enough in the pan to then remove onto cooling rack- sans pan.
  14. ((I removed mine when still too hot and nearly broke the first layer- I also slightly overcooked mine due to not being well acquainted with our oven yet))
  15. Once removed from pans and still cooling- take a brush and dip it into the remaining cherry juice- I was very generous with brushing this on.
  16. Start making the frosting: see below!

Frosting Instructions: 
  • 16oz Powder Sugar
  • A few drops of Red Food Coloring
  • 3 Tablespoons of reserved Maraschino Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (cut into Cubes- room temperature)
Combine all of the above ingredients into a large bowl (minus the food coloring). Beat on low and gradually increase speed. Keep beating until desired texture is achieved. The maraschino juice will provide a very faint pink color- add food coloring one drop at a time until you get the shade of pink that suits your fancy.

I did a very thin layer of frosting between the two layers to ensure I had enough to cover the cake.
Once the frosting hardened a bit I sliced the remaining cherries in half and dried them in a paper towel one by one as I placed them on the cake- you don't want them to slide off!

What next? Slice this baby up and enjoy! {PS: individual slices freeze up really well- so when you have a sweet craving pull a piece out and let it come to room temperature!)

Added a little vintage flair to the decor with crochet flowers

Since I baked mine a couple minutes too long- I served this with some vanilla bean ice cream

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