Fresh cherries are one of the highlights of summer fruit, but beware their high-staining juice. Dishtowels, aprons, and your shirt all are at risk of becoming pink polka dotted.
Fingernails stained burgundy from pitting deep red cherries, I was baking a sweet surprise for some friends. A golden crusted cake with cherries peaking through the top was sure to delight. Old-fashioned flavor and simple preparation make this one of my go-to summer desserts.
Quick Prep, One Bowl
I love cakes that whip up quickly in a bowl, pour into a pan and bake. With a short list of ingredients, all you need is a springform pan and some parchment paper. Springform pans are handy to have in your tool kit and parchment paper is incredibly useful. Here, it’s cut into rounds to line the pan. You can also purchase pre-cut rounds from most cooking stores.
Cake? Torte? Clafouti?
For simplicity sake I’m calling this a cake. The original recipe called it a torte. I think it’s really a French clafouti; a country-French dessert made with fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a thick batter. Some are more cake-like, some more pudding-like. This one is on the cakey side but still nice and moist.
From Plum Torte to Cherry Cake
Published by food writer and author Marian Burros and Lois Levine, the original recipe was for a plum torte. It’s one of the most requested recipes from the NY Times archives.
Instead of plums, I use fresh cherries. I’ve also traded out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour, which lends a nice texture and bit of a nutty flavor. It also works with gluten-free flours blends (like Bob’s Red Mill), which is how I bake these days.
Almond extract replaces the vanilla, and a splash of Amaretto at the end adds even more almond flavor, but that is optional.
When placing cherries on top of the batter, squeeze in as many as you can in a single layer. The batter will rise up around them as the cake bakes.
How to Serve
To serve, all this cake needs is the simple embellishment.Aa small scoop of ice cream or a little sweetened plain Greek yogurt work great. Or just eat it plain. It’s that good.
The cake can be made a day ahead, cooled, wrapped well in plastic film and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
The original plum torte recipe, from the NY TImes
Fun story about the original recipe and it’s popularity
Explanation of the baking term “creaming”, which emulsifies the sugar and butter
If you get to San Francisco, Tante Marie is a fun place to take cooking classes. Check out their class list and book ahead of your trip.