Cake/Walk

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I take walks some mornings to clear my head.

This morning as I started up the hill I was hit with the honey scent of a flowering tree. It took me right back to Via Fogliano, the cool, tree-lined street in Rome where my aunts lived and where I spent part of my summers as a girl. For a moment I was seven or eight, walking along the sidewalk with my sister, my mom, and my three aunts, rounding the corner past the pizzeria toward the neighborhood gelateria where I always ordered, without fail, gianduja con panna.

I passed a garden, obviously lovingly tended, with blooming roses and peonies, and striped clematis trailing up a lamp post. My thoughts shifted to my newspaper days in Detroit, and to the weekly column I wrote for a time called Green Thumb, in which I profiled gardeners. It didn’t matter what else I wrote about; those short profiles of people and their gardens always got the most response from readers. I thought about the woman whose name I no longer remember, who really liked how I described the collards in her garden as having leaves so broad you could swaddle a baby in them. She even called to thank me.

It occurs to me that I don’t actually clear my head when I walk; I fill it.

When I’m walking, memories bubble up, along with ideas; I write entire paragraphs and work out kinks in ones that are giving me trouble; I interview people and compose emails; I make up recipes. I recall things from my distant past that I thought were gone forever. By the time I’m on the final leg of my walk I am nearly bursting with new purpose.

And then I open the back door and am hit, not by a memory or an idea or a turn of phrase, but by a pile of laundry. And so the day begins.

The question is: Which side of me will prevail? That depends. Sometimes it’s both.

Take today. Today I have a post, sort of, but no new recipe. My laundry basket, however, is stacked with clean clothes, all neatly folded.

Still, I feel a little guilty. I don’t want to leave you empty-handed right before a long weekend. So I am posting one of my all-time favorites. It’s my Sour Cherry-Mascarpone Pound Cake from Big Night In. It’s glorious—tall, with a dense, cream-colored crumb, and liberally studded with ruby-red cherries. And there’s a bonus: it’s easy to make. A piece of cake. A cakewalk. You’ll have plenty of time left after making it to fold the laundry.

Makes 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups ( 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more to flour the pan
  • 2 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted and halved
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces mascarpone or sour cream, at room temperature
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Instructions

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan and set it asid.e

In a small bowl, mix the cherries with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Let the mixture steep while you prepare the batter for the cake.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Put the 1 1/2 cups butter in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat briefly on medium speed to soften. Add the remaining 3 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat at high speed until light and airy, 5 full minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Change the speed to medium and alternately add the flour-salt mixture and the mascarpone and sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until incorporated.

Drain the cherries, reserving the syrup that collects in the bowl. With a rubber or silicone spatula, fold the cherries into the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in hte center comes out clean, about 1 hour r15 minutes.

While the cake is baking, put the reserved cherry syrup in a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Strain and reserve the liquid.

When the cake is done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan. While it is still warm, brush the top and sides with the warm cherry syrup. The cake will absorb the syrup. Let the cake cool to room temperature.

To serve, transfer the cake to a decorative platter or cake stand. Dust with confectioners' sugar.

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25 Responses to Cake/Walk

  1. Nancy Baggett May 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    What a great way to use sour cherries. As usual, I want to rush in the kitchen and bake this, but, of course, have no time. I’ll have to check out your Big Night In book–also, when I have more time. Have a nice weekend.

    • Domenica May 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

      Thank you, Nancy. I always buy tons of sour cherries in summer and freeze them. I still have a bunch left from last summer and need to use them before the new crop comes in!

  2. Ethan May 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    I’m glad I’m not the only one. Whenever I got running, my mind doesn’t clear up, it just accumulates ideas and things to do. I’m not familiar with the whole folded laundry thing though, you’ll have to explain that one to me one day!
    The true sign of a successful cake for me is the eat-ability of the batter, this one passes the test!

    • Domenica May 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      Ethan, I thought about asking you for that picture of your pity party laundry basket to add to my post! And you are right about this cake batter. It’s as good as it looks.

  3. Aviva Goldfarb May 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    OMG, that cake looks heavenly!! I want someone to make it for me asap.

    • Domenica May 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

      I’ll make it for you anytime, Aviva : )

  4. Betty Ann, Asian in America May 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    What a beautiful cake & a lovely post! Thanks for sharing. It was great to have you at the “Eat Write Retreat” panel discussion. Your messages were so inspiring…thank you! Well, I better strap on the apron and start baking this cake….

    • Domenica May 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

      Thank you so much Betty Ann. I enjoyed meeting you as well and hope we see more of each other. Now go make that cake!

  5. LiztheChef May 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    No sour cherries here in SoCAL but this is one lovely post…Maybe I’ll use different cherries. How bad could that be ?!

  6. Sharon Stirling May 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    I don’t bake or eat a lot of sweets, not for health reasons just lack of desire, but your dessert recipes make me want to break out the standing mixer. I even bought extra sugar and butter this morning after I saw this post. Will attempt very soon!

    • Domenica May 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

      Guess what, Sharon–I don’t have much of a sweet tooth either. I’d much rather have a good meal and skip dessert. But this one is special. Plus, because of the cherries, and the tart cherry syrup brushed on top, it’s not too sweet. Cheers!

  7. Laura May 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    I was checking out your website to create a link on mine (I made a recipe from your new book), and I love this post! My head does that too–I always wish I could remember more of it. And of course sometimes it is not good stuff–that always seems to be late at night. The cake looks awesome as well, I grew up a strictly sour cherry girl, we never had the sweet ones in our pies, etc, and this cake looks fabulous. I love this kind of homey, rustic dessert. Given how much I like your pasta book and given how much I like cooking family style, it occurs to me I need this book also!

    • Domenica May 28, 2011 at 12:16 am #

      Laura, thanks for your lovely comment. I adore sour cherries and eat them out of hand. Did you grow up in Michigan? My husband did and I lived there for a number of years and we go back to northern Michigan in the summer. Love it up there. I’m so glad you are enjoying the pasta book. Big Night In was a blast to write. Lots of fun recipes for casual entertaining. Cheers, and thank you for visiting my site : )

  8. Alejandra (@frijolita) May 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Such a beautiful post (yes…the cake sounds delicious) but the walking part was what got me ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Domenica May 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Thank you!

  9. Nancy Pollard May 31, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    I buy sour cherries just for this cake (well the gelato out of the same book too). It is a Cuisinette favorite. It keeps really well. And sour cherries are at FreshFarm market now as is Blue Ridge Mascarpone. What are you waiting for!

    • Domenica May 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

      Love it! Thanks for chiming in, Nanciella!

  10. Melissa June 1, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Ooo…and cherries will be at our farmer’s markets soon. YUM! I love a good pound cake. So satisfying (and easily disguised as breakfast :). How was Hill’s Kitchen?!

  11. Liz June 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I’ve made this recipe countless times! It is amazing!!! Opt for the mascarpone instead of the sour cream, I’ve made with both, and prefer the mascarpone cheese version. I can’t wait to get my hands on this seasons fresh sour cherries to make this again and again.

    • Domenica June 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment, Liz. I think I have to agree with you re: mascarpone v. sour cream. Recently, I had some labneh (thick Lebanese yogurt cheese) in my fridge and I used that instead. It was a little too dense, so I’m going back to mascarpone. Still have a few more frozen cherries from last year to finish off before this year’s crop comes in (soon!). Cheers.

  12. Olga @ MangoTomato June 13, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    So happy I got a chance to try this tonight. LOVED it! {as well as the smoked mozzarella and fried eggplant pasta AND the pasta with pesto and nuts}

  13. Jamie June 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    My husband take long walks – or short walks – when we want to discuss our life and all life’s possibilities. We make our decisions when we walk, we clear our head of the day to day worries and weights and we laugh and we dream. And then I come home and bake! And cherries and mascarpone on a pound cake? This has my name written all over it!

    • Domenica June 13, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      Thank you, Jamie. I know from reading your wonderful blog what a devoted and accomplished baker you are, and I appreciate your kind words.

  14. rachell December 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Recipe sounds lovely – just wondering if anyone has made it with less sugar? 3 cups (i think) is the most sugar i’ve ever put into a cake. Would it work with less, or not really?

    • Domenica Marchetti December 20, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      Rachell ~ welcome! This is a good question. Keep in mind that this makes a large, tall Bundt cake and that the sugar helps to offset the tartness of the sour cherries. But I always urge people to experiment and so I would say, sure ~ why not? I’d decrease just a bit the first time, maybe to to 2 1/2 cups, just to make sure the difference doesn’t affect the overall integrity of the cake. Happy baking and please report back. Cheers, D

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