Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake

For a Mother's Day family gathering, I wanted to make something simple and not too rich.  I saw the first cherries of the season when I was at Whole Foods earlier this week, and I knew I wanted to include them in this dessert.  Since my dad isn't a huge fan of any kind of cherry that isn't in a pie, I decided to add peaches to the cake as well.  Another one of the reasons I wanted to use cherries is because I wanted to try out my new fancy Oxo Good Grips Cherry Pitter.  And let me say, it works really well, I know I will be making some pies this summer.  

I got the recipe for this cake from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I really like America's Test Kitchen.  They take a scientific approach to each recipe they create, and I like to read about the steps they took to come to best recipe possible.  This is a really easy, quick recipe, great for weeknight or anytime you want a light cake that isn't too rich or elaborate.  It's great plain or with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  I think if I make this cake again, I might substitute half of the vanilla extract for almond extract or maybe top the cake with crystallized ginger for a different flavor.  Both would work well with cherries and peaches.

On a side note: I made a different cake originally, and it came out of the oven just like a hockey puck.  And I had made that cake before, so I was worried that my baking powder had become inactive, so I thought I would test it out.  A quick tip, to make sure you baking powder works, add a small amount to about 3-4 tablespoons of water, if it reacts and starts to bubble, then it still works.  This tip is the same for baking soda, but use vinegar instead of water (you know like the old volcano science experiments) :)

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake
     makes one 8 x 8 inch cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs  and 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature (I used non-fat plain yogurt because I didn’t have any whole milk, it worked fine)
  • 2 cups ripe fruit (any fruit would work, I used a combination of fresh, pitted cherries, and diced frozen peaches I thawed and drained thoroughly )

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter and dust with flour.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and remaining milk. beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated. Gently fold in the fruit with a rubber spatula. Note: The batter will be quick thick, so don't be alarmed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 30 minutes before serving.  Can be served warm or at room temperature. 

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