Cherry orange loaf cake
Dried cherries, pecans and orange zest and juice flavor this not-too-sweet cake, perfect for a holiday breakfast or with coffee and tea.
I don’t bake much. So I was more than a little surprised when my Hazelnut Rosemary Jam Cookies were featured in Bon Appétit’s Blog Envy holiday showcase. And when I was invited to participate in 2009's Bon Appétit Blog Envy Bake-Off, an actual competition, I was flattered but less than inclined to give it a try.Skip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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There are some serious bakers out there in the blogosphere. We’re talking pastry chef serious. I knew whatever simple efforts I came up with would not compete well in that arena. Then I remembered a story my grandmother told every December around the holidays, about a simple gift that meant so much to her as a little girl. Suddenly, winning wasn’t as important as sharing a recipe inspired by that gift.
My maternal grandmother was a big part of my life growing up in St. Louis and embracing city living early on. She often took me downtown on the bus to go shopping, have lunch and maybe catch a movie matinee. But she had grown up on a farm, and I could tell from the stories she would tell with such longing that she missed farm life. I wrote about some of those stories last year and of the Christmas gift she looked forward to each year. An orange. That post resonated with a number of readers, bringing up similar stories and experiences. And thinking about all that, I realized that a dessert didn’t need to be extravagant or architecturally exuberant to add some sweetness to the season.
My grandmother was a big fan of stollens, coffee cakes and gooey butter cakes, a St. Louis delicacy. More Saturdays than not, treats like these would make their way into our house, usually from the Favorite Bakery on Cherokee Street. Some were sugary sweet, but as often they would be dense, non-cakey loaves with just a little sweetness. Perfect with a cup of coffee from the chrome electric percolator that always seemed to be brewing on the kitchen table.
This Cherry Orange Loaf Cake is that kind of cake. Not overly sweet and, if not exactly dense, not exactly fluffy either. Cherries, chopped pecans and flaxseed meal give it a satisfying textural richness and mix of flavors. Orange zest and a drizzled frosting of orange juice and powdered sugar add a subtle citrus finish. Honestly, when concocting this cake, a variation on a Lemon Flaxseed Cake I make, I expected the orange flavor to be a little more prominent. I’m kind of thinking that my orange was a little on the anemic side, though – there was no big burst of orange fragrance as I zested or juiced it. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe again with a more robust orange.
And delicateness of its orangeness aside, this is a lovely, light treat. Not too rich or guilt-laden, it’s just right for when holiday guests drop in or as a holiday breakfast while you open presents.
Cherry Orange Loaf Cake
1 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup [+ a little extra] canola or vegetable oil
1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons flaxseed meal [or 1/4 cup flaxseed ground in small food processor]
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped pecans