Cherry Almond Bread: A Pattern for Creativity

When I was a young cook, a young wife and a young mother, I never strayed from a recipe. For years, I followed every step precisely. My husband, on the other hand, could put in a little of this or a little of that. I surmised that he was more experienced, more creative or that he just didn’t care. I have since learned that he had more confidence to try it out.

A leader in my church gave an inspiring talk last week to women about finding happiness through creativity and compassion. He said.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Happiness, Your Heritage

He shared a funny example of the difference between how he and his wife cook, which reminded me that my husband is not like most men, or at least most men of a certain generation. He cooks. But not only that, he cooks with confidence and creativity. After watching him for the past 18 years, I can now set aside a recipe and create one of my own, like this cherry almond bread. Overcoming my fear of failure and trusting myself in the kitchen was just what I needed to uncover my hidden creativity out of the kitchen, too.

I’ve discovered creativity follows a need. A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a special breakfast for Saturday morning on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, I ran out of time making three other things that day. (My cooking limits is usually three items. Otherwise I become overwhelmed in the kitchen.)

Sometimes a particular ingredient sparks my creativity, like the dried cherries I had left over from making the Wheat Berry Salad last month. Those are great. Have you ever tried them?

I considered making the bread dough I had already prepared into cherry almond sweet rolls. That would have been tasty, but an even faster alternative would be to roll out the dough, add the dried cherries, almonds and a butter/sugar filling, roll it into a loaf and cook it whole. I slathered cream cheese frosting on top and YUM!

My Cherry Almond Bread is a variation on my mom’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Here’s how I did it, step-by-step:

1. Make bread dough. I used this recipe and reduced the whole wheat flour by a cup to two cups and added an extra cup of white flour. Allow to rise for one hour.

2. After the dough doubles, cut into two pieces. Shape one loaf according to the recipe and set aside in a loaf pan to rise. Roll out the second piece of dough into a rectangle.

3.  Partially melt ¼ cup butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (about 30 seconds, depending on your power setting and softness of butter). Add ½ cup granulated sugar to the butter and ½ teaspoon almond extract. While I didn’t do this, I would recommend adding a drop or two of red food coloring to make the sugar mixture pink for a more visible swirl in the bread. Stir to combine.

4. Spread the sugar mixture on top of the rolled-out dough, leaving about 1 inch all around for an edge.

5. Sprinkle ½ cup to 1 cup dried cherries over the sugar mixture. Sprinkle ½ cup slivered almonds over the cherries.

6. Fold up the edges on the short ends and roll up the dough, beginning from the long end of the rectangle. Place seam side down on a large greased baking sheet, and allow to rise for about 20-30 minutes.

7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and make cream cheese glaze.

8. Soften 3 oz. of cream cheese. Stir in enough powdered sugar to make a spreading consistency. Optional – add ¼ teaspoon almond extract to the glaze. Frost the loaf when still warm but not hot, about 30 minutes after baking. Store in refrigerator to set glaze. Slice to serve.

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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca
    Oct 3, 2008

    For some reason, I haven’t been able to access your lifetime reading list post. The post shows about a paragraph, then begins the list, and stops! I’m dying to know what is on your list! Can you re-post?

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