Domenica Marchetti for NPR
Domenica Marchetti for NPR
This is a true pound cake in that it uses no leavening such as baking soda or baking powder to make it rise, but instead relies solely on the airiness of the fluffy egg-rich batter. The crumb is creamy and dense and dotted with bright red cherry halves, and the exterior of the cake bakes to a beautiful, slightly crisp golden-brown. To a person, everyone for whom I have made this cake (and that's a lot of people) has loved it. The recipe is from my book Big Night In: More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian Style (Chronicle Books 2008).
Makes 10 to 12 servings
2 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted and halved
3 cups sugar, plus 1/2 cup for marinating cherries
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese or sour cream, at room temperature
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt or tube pan and set it aside.
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 butter in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium speed to combine. Add the remaining 3 cups of sugar, a half-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 and salt mixture and the mascarpone or sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.
Drain the cherries, reserving the syrup that collects in the bowl. With a rubber or silicon spatula, fold the cherries into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and shake lightly to even out the top. Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, 1 hour 15 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.