Sour Cherry Cake

I’ve picked lots of cherries this year. How much exactly?  87 pounds to date both sweet & sour, over a few weeks in 3 different places. This past  Wednesday  morning I picked 40 pounds from about 7:45 AM until 10:00 AM on a hill top orchard: 20 pounds were mine to keep and 20 was the owner’s share. I love those “shared” deals!

Anyway, when you pick so much, you really cannot eat them all “as is” (no matter how many cherries you can eat at one sitting …. which when it is me, it not negligeable). You’ve got to process them. I have mentioned already the easiest recipe (Cherry Liqueur), and yes, I jam & freeze (and make ice-creams & sorbets. Of course!)

I spotted this recipe for Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake in Saveur Magazine last year, tried it, and after a few modifications (including the not inconsiderable change in cooking time), it’s now part of the dishes I make: it’s easy and adaptable and flavorful. I also make it with other fruit, especially blueberries.

I am pretty sure that the original recipe – just like clafoutis – would call for unpitted cherries which have that haunting almond flavor. Still I pit the cherries, but I use some almond extract to try to recapture that taste.

The flour can be any flour: whole wheat (which is what the Saveur recipe uses), pastry, all purpose, spelt or conbination of for a total of 2 1/4 C. Spelt will be a more fragile cake. A little fine cornmeal is also very nice (replace 1/4 cup of the wheat flour with fine cornmeal).

The quantities makes a large cake (18 servings) that works great for breakfast with plain yogurt. The cut squares freeze well.

Rustic Sour Cherry Cake

Based on a Saveur Magazine recipe

1.5 pounds pitted fresh sour cherries
1⁄4 cup flour, plus more for pan
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons kirsch or brandy or rum
1 teaspoon. almond extract
1 egg
2 1⁄4 cups flour (whole, AP, pastry or spelt)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk

  1. Heat oven to 400°.
  2. Butter & flour a 13″ x 18″ x 1″ baking sheet.
  3. Toss cherries with 1⁄4 cup flour in a bowl; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, kirsch, and almond extract  until pale and fluffy. Add egg; beat until incorporated.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With the hand mixer running on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk in 3 batches to make a batter. Pour or spoon batter onto baking sheet and smooth top as evenly as possible. Sprinkle cherries over the top in a single layer, including any collected juice. Bake until cake is golden brown, 20 to  minutes. Let cake cool 30 minutes, then cut into squares.

3 thoughts on “Sour Cherry Cake”

  • Sylvie, Mary made that very cake for our Bide-A-Wee Bastille Day party–she had noticed it in Saveur last year, and made it once before. It was excellent, though the nice little crunch to the crust went soggy in our hideous humidity. And while a Hungarian cake might not be quite comme il faut for Bastille Day, I feel you’ve given it the French twist with your approval!


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