Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.
Bundt Cake Saturday!
Morning: not anymore
Music: Jimmy Eat World
Ohhhhhh, I'm really happy with how this one turned out.
After being stuck in a bit of a baking rut there for awhile, last week's Betty Crocker extravaganza really re-inspired me. I'm feeling pretty en fuego right now, totally fueled up on fresh flowers and seasonal fruit and delicious extracts and new flavors. It's nice to feel so creative again. I think it has something to do with spring, too. May rocks my world. Blossoms everywhere. And peonies in abundance. Hello, world.
So this morning I crafted a new recipe, inspired by a pretty little cherry-pear tart that our girl Jilly brought in last week from La Boulange. The cherries gave such a zing! of a flavor, I had to find way to use a big bag of bings in bundt form. And I think this simple recipe is just the ticket.
[That's Bob Fosse above, of course; the first thing I think of when I hear "cherries" is his classic choreography to "Life is Just A Bowl of Cherries," so it only seems fitting to have him here. For the record, there's a helluva lot of godawful cherry art out there. Beware the Google image search for "life bowl cherries." It'll make you throw up a little in your mouth. Aprons and Mary Englebreit and kitschy paintings, oh my.]
So after loading up on a great bag of cherries and a few ripe pears, I modified a classic, my true-blue cream cheese recipe that has worked so well in so many forms, and came up with this vibrant
CHERRY-PEAR ALMOND BUNDT CAKE
Delicious-sounding, no? I thought so.
1 package yellow cake mix
2 small packages cheesecake pudding
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup fresh pears, finely chopped
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and chopped
Handful of slivered almonds
Cream cheese frosting (make your own or buy some, lazy!)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, cream cheese, oil and almond extract. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Stir in pears and cherries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Easy enough, right? The best part was pitting the cherries. Talk about meditative. Chop one, eat one; chop one, eat one. (Heh. I'd forgotten how delicious fresh cherries are.) Make sure not to go overboard with the fruit, though; it's easy to want to dump in as much as possible, but if you add more than the called-for 2 cups, your cake will be mushy and crumbly. (Not that I know from experience or anything. It only took me about six overeager months to learn that important lesson.)
I turned the finished cake out on the wire rack and ran to yoga while it cooled. A few sweaty hours later, I mixed up a quick cream cheese frosting, adding 1 teaspoon of almond extract to make it match the cake flavor. I'm pretty in love with almond these days; the frosting smelled divine. Heat that up a bit to soften it a little, and then drizzle it on top of the cake. (Throw your slivered almonds into the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes to toast them while you do this.)
Now, the best part: making it pretty. Sprinkle a handful of the toasted slivered almonds on top. Add a few fresh cherries here and there for nice splashes of vibrant red. Finally, I have some fresh spring stock flowers on my kitchen countertop right now, so I pulled off a few leaves and added them for a touch of green.
And there's your Cherry-Pear Almond bundt. Not gonna lie - I'm crazy about it.