Cherry Cheese "Christmas Wreath" Pound Cake


This cake was inspired by the cover of this month's Coles magazine, which actually uses an instant butter cake mix. I decided to make the cake even more festive by making a cream cheese pound cake bursting with fresh cherries, drizzled over some orange glaze icing and decorated it with more cherries! A generous dusting of icing sugar always creates a pretty snowflake effect, and to complete the Christmas wreath look, I added a sprig of mint leaves which I picked from the garden.

Little Hilary insisted on "framing" the photo with Christmas decorations...

This cake is perfect with a cuppa for afternoon tea, and is fantastic when served warm with that delicious orange glaze icing. The cream cheese in the cake adds more of a "creamy" texture to the cake, and not so much of flavour. The recipe I used called for maraschino cherries, but I substituted with fresh cherries instead. I reckon you can use cranberries too if you like. I must admit, the trickiest part was trying to keep the cherries from falling off the top of the cake as I was taking pictures of it. Other than that, this cake is really easy to make and is sure to impress your family and friends this Christmas!

  
Cherry Cheese "Christmas Wreath" Pound Cake
Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (I subtituted with 1 tsp almond essence)
1 1/2 cup maraschino cherries (or substitute with fresh pitted cherries), drained and halved
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Fresh cherries for decorating
Icing sugar for dusting
Sprigs of mint leaves

Orange glaze icing:
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
About 2 tbsp fresh orange juice

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325F (165C). Grease and flour an 8 inch tube/bundt pan. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Dredge the well-drained cherries in 1/4 cup flour, then gently fold into batter. Spread into prepared pan and level the mixture with a spatula.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60-80 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.              
  4. Once the cake has cooled, combine the ingredients for the orange glaze icing in a bowl until you get a smooth mixture that is not too runny. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and arrange fresh cherries on top. Add a sprig (or more) of mint leaves. Dust liberally with icing sugar. This cake is best served slightly warm (a few seconds in the microwave works great!).
Tip:
I didn't have a cherry-pitter. So, in order to pit the cherries, I first removed the stem, then inserted the end of a chopstick from the top of the cherry and pushed it straight through the centre until the pit/seed popped out below. Gets a little messy but it does the job! Alternatively, just use a sharp knife to cut around the seed, twist the cherry halves apart and pry out the seed with your fingers.