Dried cherry and berry mixes are a great shelf-stable enhancer for sweet breads. I’ve used cherries and cranberries here. There is a wide range of dried fruits available in today’s markets, so the choice is up to you. These sweet loaves are very moist and cake-y. They start with a box cake and pudding mix, so they are fast and easy. A simple powdered sugar glaze or a heavy dusting are all that’s needed to top off these gems. I’ve made these to give as kitchen gifts, so they are smaller than a traditional 8- or 9-inch loaf. You’ll need to adjust the baking time upward if you make larger loaves or down if you make even smaller ones. Whatever size you choose to make, they are sure to be a big hit.
Cherry Berry Loaves Recipe
1 package (about 18.25 ounces) vanilla cake mix, unprepared
1 (3-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 Tablespoons) butter, melted and at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup of dried cherries, chopped (see Notes)
3/4 cup dried cranberries or mixed dried fruits, chopped
Confectioner’s (powdered) sugar for glaze, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour four 7-inch loaf pans (see Notes). (Alternatively, coat with flour baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry cake mix, pudding mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
In a medium bowl, beat sour cream, eggs, butter, and milk. Add to the dry cake mix ingredients and beat just until combined.
Fold in dried cherries and cranberries by hand.
Divide batter into the prepared loaf pans, filling them 2/3 full. Smooth tops. Place the loaf pans on a baking tray, evenly spaced apart.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Loosen the edges with a rubber spatula, and invert onto a baking rack to cool.
Optional Glaze: Whisk water or milk into about 1 cup of powdered sugar until it reaches a drippable consistency. Drizzle over cooled loaves.
Alternatively, dust the tops of the loaves with powdered sugar or leave them bare.
Yield: 4 medium loaves
• I’ve used disposable paper loaf pans, which do not require greasing. You can find them here. They are 7 inches by 2-1/2 inches. Obviously, if you use these, there is no need to remove them from the wrapper. Simply cool on a rack.
• The recipe may also be used to make mini-loaves and/or muffins. Reduce the baking time accordingly. If you use standard loaf pans, you should get 2 loaves.
• White or yellow cake mix may be substituted for vanilla.
• Plain or vanilla yogurt may be substituted for the sour cream.