Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cherry Chocolate Loaf

There's no denying that summer has the best selection of fresh, local fruit. Peaches are my absolute favourite, but everyone loves the sweet, juicy, dark cherries from the Okanagan. The next best thing to dark cherries is dark chocolate, and the two together is a match made in heaven!

Whenever I buy fresh cherries I pit and freeze some, just for this cake, my husband's favourite. Since it was his birthday yesterday, I made it just for him...and some for us, of course...

Heat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a bundt pan (my preference) or 2 loaf pans.

 In the bowl of a stand mixer combine:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups  brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 ounces butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)

On  a low speed mix with the paddle attachment until you have a fine crumbly texture.

Measure out the wet ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

With the mixer running on low, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until almost all combined.

Measure the cherries and chocolate:

1 slightly heaped cup of halved, pitted fresh (or frozen) cherries
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Add these to the batter and finish mixing until all combined.

Scrape into the prepared pan and bake until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Be sure you have batter, not melted chocolate chip on the skewer!

It takes about 50 - 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before unmoulding and allowing to cool before cutting.

Eat it warm, the cherries are juicy and the chocolate is melty....and you have the taste of summer any time of year!

  • The cake freezes well, whole or individually wrapped slices.
  • Make muffins instead: before adding the wet ingredients, remove 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside. Add the wet ingredients, cherries and chocolate and scoop into prepared muffin tins (it makes about 16 large muffins). Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top, press lightly and bake.
  • Not a fan of cherries or chocolate? Switch the cocoa to flour, and the cherries to blueberries. Add some lemon zest, and you have an easy blueberry cake or muffin.
  • Serve it as dessert, warm with ice cream and fresh berries. Drizzle the top with chocolate ganache - heat 5 ounces of dark chocolate with 6 tablespoons of whipping cream in a double boiler until the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth, glossy, thick sauce.
  • Feel free to make the crumble topping for the loaf (not the bundt). Add chopped hazelnuts for texture and another level of flavour.
  • Use different spices....why not ginger or cayenne pepper? Almond extract instead of vanilla?
  • No buttermilk? Use plain yoghurt or sour cream and thin it with milk until you have the consistency of buttermilk. You can also add lemon juice to plain milk and leave it to thicken and curdle a bit before using it.

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