Last month my parents came for a short visit just before my birthday, and when they pulled up in the driveway and got out of the car I realized they had brought me a wonderful birthday surprise: my grandmother. She looked a little confused as my mother helped her out of the car, as if she couldn’t remember that she had been here before. It’s hard to see her like this now; frail, forgetful, and to look into eyes that don’t always recognize me. But every once in a while there is a spark, and I see a glimpse of her old self, a bit of her humor and that smile and laugh I have always loved, the woman who ran around and played on swings with my children just a few short years ago.
While they were here visiting we went out for lunch, and Dad and Grandma voted for Bob Evans restaurant, a perfect choice for them. They both got to have some biscuits and gravy, and Mom ordered some cherry bread to go along with her salad, which Grandma and her sweet tooth took a real liking to. In fact, she ate it all, then Mom bought a whole loaf to bring home for the boys, and Dad asked me if I could try to make some for him.
I can’t say that this is exactly like Bob Evans cherry bread, but it’s very easy to make and my boys all gave it two thumbs up and kept asking for more, plus they asked if I could make it for snack every day. It passed the kid test, so I’m ok with it.
And every time I make this bread, it will remind me of the time we all went out to lunch with Grandma and she ate all the cherry bread, and it will be a good memory.
The Bob Evans cherry bread has a very pronounced cherry flavor to it. If you want to mimic that, use the cherry extract as mentioned below. If you prefer a milder cherry flavor, use vanilla extract instead. The cherry liquid is optional, it just lends a little color and a little extra cherry flavor.
MARASCHINO CHERRY BREAD
Makes 1 loaf.
large mixing bowl
medium mixing bowl
9×5 loaf pan, greased and floured
2-1/2 (300 g) cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup (175 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon cherry extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) maraschino cherry liquid (optional)
16-ounce (453 g) bottle maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1. Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° F/175° C.
2. In the medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, canola oil, cherry extract, and cherry liquid (if using). In the small bowl, toss the chopped maraschino cherries with the remaining 1/2 cup flour.
3. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until all of the flour is incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the cherries.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and gently tap on the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake in the preheated oven until a tester comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan abut 10 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling on a wire rack. Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to three days.