This bread is a versatile, easy-to-make crowd-pleaser, delicately laced with Amaretto and studded with dried cherries and almonds. Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Notes: Loaves can be made up to 1 month ahead and frozen. Bake and glaze loaves and allow them to cool completely. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, put in zip-lock plastic bags, and freeze. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and defrost at room temperature.
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups halved dried cherries
1 cup chopped almonds
2 cups powdered sugar
6 to 7 tbsp. Amaretto
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 330°. Butter two 6-cup-capacity loaf pans (or, if making the mini loaves, butter six 2-cup-capacity pans).
With an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla; mix until blended.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture, cherries, and almonds to wet ingredients and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed; do not overmix.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 6 tbsp. Amaretto. Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tbsp. of Amaretto.
Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. With a thin skewer or long toothpick, poke deep holes in tops of loaves. Drizzle with Amaretto glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.
Let loaves cool completely, then slice and serve, or wrap and freeze (see Notes).
I've been making this bread ever since it was printed in the Christmas issue 2006. It is one of my favorite recipes, and I've also passed it along to many friends who love it too. I live in a high altitude area, so the large loaf pans can tend to overflow in the oven - I just decrease the amount of batter in the large pans, and fill a mini loaf pan too.
The flavor of this bread was OK, but the recipe was just too rich--too much fat. Also, it is quite expensive to make. Next time I'm thinking of a gift loaf, I'll stick to classic date-nut or banana bread.
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