neapolitan pound loaf … actually it’s a cake.

Another week … another

baking crew challenge.

The theme: loaves.

I tend to think of a loaf as a *somewhat* healthy baked treat … chalk full of mashed bananas, grated zucchini, or even pumpkin purée, with an above average sprinkling of chocolate chips … a little sweetness in the belly.

Oh how I heart a good slice of *fresh out of the oven*, warm, gooey banana/zucchini/pumpkin loaf.

That’s why I was so excited about this challenge. Not only would I bake one of my favourite things … but I would also get to try a new recipe.

A neapolitan pound cake recipe to be exact.

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First off. I’m going to be honest. I decided to bake this because it looked good. And if something can look that good … it’s got to stand a chance of TASTING good right?

Well … it lived up to my pre-judgement.

Except.

This is no loaf. Nope. Don’t confuse this for a slightly savoury loaf: something warm and comforting to accompany your tea or coffee. It’s not the kind of thing you bake as your afternoon snack … or as a *quick,easy, and healthy* breakfast option.

Nope.

This is a committment. You must commit yourself to this intensely decadent and absolutely delightful dessert.

It’s based on neapolitan ice cream right … so vanilla, chocolate and strawberry all swirled together to create a party in your mouth.

It’s true. All those flavours are good things.

I decided to change it up a little. Rather than stick to the traditional strawberry flavour, I opted for a strawberry-rhubarb flavour. I actually couldn’t decide on cherry or raspberry … but then I spotted the strawberry-rhubarb jam on the shelf, I couldn’t resist adding a splash of tart rhubarb to the mix. Could you?

I didn’t think so.

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The richness in this cake comes from the 5 ounces of mascarpone cheese … added to another 2 ounces of cream cheese … plus 1 cup of butter … and 6 eggs.

Mother of pearl. You just know that this is going to be one rich and delicious slice of cake!

So while I was busy whipping mini loaf and bundt cake versions of this recipe … my friends were busy baking their own loaves. Tom & Aimée baked a beautiful cardamom loaf, Meredith brought a tangy lemon blueberry loaf, and Cory baked a family favourite, walnut sour cream loaf.

I’m going to say … each and every one of the loaves were delicious … but so completely different.

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The cardamom loaf was beautiful … an exquisite crumb and shape … and then when you bit into it, the pungent flavour of the cardamom perefectly accompanied a cup of coffee. It was a spicy addition to the challenge.

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The walnut sour cream loaf is one of Cory’s favourite family holiday treats. Who can fault a loaf that’s chalk full of walnuts and then topped with a brown sugar crumble? Although Cory’s recipe was a tad oily (even after Cory adjusted his mother’s original recipe – and he agreed with us) … I still gladly took a mini loaf home with me … and very happily devoured it.

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We all know that I heart lemons … so it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m going to annouce that Meredith’s lemon blueberry loaf was my favourite. I loved how light it was. I loved the fresh blueberries. I loved the tang of the lemons. It’s the perfect afternoon tea snack. You don’t actually need to drink tea … you can just grab a slice of this loaf and savour it … that’s what I did.

Compared to the cardamom loaf, walnut sour cream loaf, and lemon blueberry loaf, my neapolitan pound loaf really stuck out as a cake. It was denser and sweeter and richer and more of a dessert. I’m not saying it wasn’t good … but it certainly shouldn’t quality as a loaf. Needless to say … if you’re looking to make something that will wow your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers … maybe you want to give this recipe a try. It certainly put a smile on many a face and satisfied many a craving for a treat in the middle of the day.

neapolitan pound loaf cake

ingredients:

3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

5 oz, mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

6 eggs

2 c. sugar

1 c. powdered sugar

3 c. cake flour

pinch of salt

flavours

6 tbsp strawberry-rhubarb jam

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp pink food colouring (I use Wilton’s colour gels … less is more – I went a little overboard!)

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Number one rule … don’t preheat your oven.

Time to get started.

In a medium bowl sift together the granulated and powdered sugars. Set aside.

Cream together the mascapone, cream cheese and butter together in your stand-mixer: medium-high speed using your paddle attachment for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a further 30 seconds.

This batter isn’t a simple “add dry ingredients to wet ingredients” batter … there are steps to follow. But they are TOTALLY worth it.

Ok .. here goes.

  • Add two of the eggs to the cheese / butter mixture.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of the sugar mixture.
  • Beat at medium speed until combined.
  • Add 1 cup flour plus the pinch of salt.
  • Beat until combined.
  • Repeat until all of the eggs, sugars, and flour are used.

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Divide the batter equally between three bowls.

In one bowl combine the batter with the strawberry-rhubarb jam. Add the food colouring gel.

In another bowl combine the batter with the cocoa powder.

And the vanilla to the remaining batter. Stir to combine.

Time to bake.

You have some options here. You can bake a regular sized loaf… or a regular bundt cake. You can go the mini loaf / mini bundt option. I decided that since I wanted to bake these quickly, the mini loaf and mini bundt cakes were the way to go. Whichever option you pick, spray the pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

I scooped a spoonful of each flavour of batter into each mini loaf tin and bundt cake (I dozen of each). Then I took a toothpick and swirled the different flavours into one another.

Place the loaf / bundt cake tin in oven.

Turn oven on to 300F.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes for the mini loaves / mini bundts. Obviously longer for a regular sized loaf or bundt cake. The original recipe recommended 2 hours … I would probably check it out after 75 minutes.

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Serve with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of hot fudge sauce.

Go big or go home right?

rhubarb lemon almond loaf

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 

That’s right … it’s rhubarb season!

I heart heart HEART rhubarb. 

It’s tart and fresh …

It screams spring is finally here

My mouth salivates just thinking about it.

Add to it some lemon curd and almonds … and you have yourself the makings of a pretty darn delicious loaf.

For realz.

This combo is ridiculously delightfulI tend to use those words a lot to describe my baking … don’t I???

Well it is!

It’s got that slight nutty flavour thanks to the almond meal and slivered almonds … plus it has the tartness of the stewed rhubarb AND then … the pop of the lemon curd … which just melts into the loaf as it bakes.

Sigh.

RIDICULOUSLY. DELIGHTFUL. No word of a lie.

I based this recipe on the hummingbird bakery‘s rhubarb almond loaf The lemon curd isn’t necessary … but it sure does make for a tasty treat.  Lemon and rhubarb are a combo made in heaven … I promise.

stewed rhubarb

ingredients:

4 – 5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into small pieces

70 g sugar

20 g butter

Place the rhubarb in a saucepan along with sugar, butter and 50 ml of water.  Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb softens.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely.

almond loaf

ingredients:

190 g butter, at room temperature

140 g flour

190 g sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

50 g ground almonds

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

25 ml buttermilk

100 g stewed rhubarb

1/4 c. lemon curd

15 g flaked almonds

 Preheat oven to 325 F.  Grease the loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  About 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well on medium speed after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything has been mixed properly.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl; combine the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, cinnamon and ginger.  Add half of the mixture to the creamed butter/sugar/egg mixture, followed by half the buttermilk. 

Mix well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and then the rest of the buttermilk.

Stir in the stewed rhubarb making sure it is evenly mixed into the batter, then pour into the prepared loaf tin.  Add dollops of the lemon curd.  Swirl them in.Sprinkle with flaked almonds on top.

Bake for 50 – 60 minutes

baked sunday mornings: double chocolate loaf

bakers note: this recipe is part of the baked sunday mornings group – which means that we (participating bloggers) don’t include the recipe.  I have included the group homepage in a link below – so if you’re tempted – click on it and you’ll be able to make this loaf at home too ;0)

Oh my.  This loaf is YUM.

How can you go wrong when you’re asked to combine chocolate with peanut butter and cream cheese?  You really can’t.  Go wrong that is.

This loaf proves that (in case you were doubting me).

The spread – well it’s more of a frosting – is creamy and a little tangy thanks to the cream cheese.  My only complaint would be that it’s a little too sweet … I think I would omit the added sugar next time … but really – it’s still delicious.

I decided to make this recipe last night – I was meeting up with some friends and had promised to bring along some sort of baked good – kill two birds with one stone: bake my assigned recipe and provide a movie treat for friends.  Perfect!

Since I was short on time, I decided to turn the one 9-by-5-inch loaf into 8 mini loaves.  They wouldn’t require as much baking time, ensuring that I could bake them, cool them slightly, and frost them prior to heading out.

Only … I over baked them.

Note to self – and to anyone interested – bake the mini loaves for 24 minutes.  Not 26 minutes.

Sigh.

The result was still delicious.  The loaves were incredibly moist and crumbly in the centre … just a little over-baked on the base and sides.  Nothing a good smear of peanut butter cream cheese spread doesn’t fix :0)

Oh yes … and since I always end up trying the raw batter – I can attest that this batter is awesome.  It’s nice and thick and super chocolaty rich.  It’s actually pretty divine.

And so my friends … here is my 5th blog entry for baked sunday mornings.  It’s kinda the perfect blog entry since you should do the following after reading it:

- click on the link that leads you to the recipe.

- ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients.

- whip up a loaf (or double it as recommended in the book itself).

- make this next week a very good week by starting every day with a thick slice of the loaf topped with the peanut butter cream cheese spread.

- starting each day in such a manner will ensure the following … you will have a wonderful week.  Or at the very least you’ll look forward to breakfast.

If you still aren’t sure … just scroll down and see how (1) easy this loaf is to make, and (2) how delicious it looks.

Can’t you just picture yourself enjoying this with a nice cup of coffee tomorrow morning?  I bet you can … so do it.  Go out and bake this (I promise, this is a ridiculously simple recipe).

And for the record … I ate that entire mini loaf and loved every single bite (even the over-baked edges).