Cherry Cake

by Sally on August 14, 2012 · 11 comments

in Baked Goods, Dessert, Gluten-free

Fingernails stained burgundy from pitting bing cherries, I was baking a sweet surprise for some friends. This golden crusted cake was sure to delight. Old-fashioned flavor and simple preparation make this one of my go-to summer desserts.

Summer Cherry Heaven

Fresh cherries are one of the highlight of summer fruit, but beware their high-staining juice. Dishtowels, aprons, and your shirt all are at risk of becoming pink polka dotted.

I love cakes you can 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 or Torte?

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.

Thanks to cookbook author and teacher, Tori Ritchie, I first came across this recipe while taking classes at Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco more than a decade ago. 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 (and now I use a GF flour blend), which lends a nice texture and bit of a nutty flavor. Almond extract replaces the vanilla, and a splash of Amaretto at the end adds even more almond flavor.

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.

For serving, all this cake needs is the simple embellishment of a little powdered sugar or a small scoop of ice cream. No fancy, sugary, buttery (high fat and calorie) icing required.

Cherry Cake

This easy cherry cake makes sweet use of fresh summer cherries for a simple country-style dessert. You’ll need a 9″ (23 cm) springform pan and parchment paper.  Get your butter out of the fridge an hour or more ahead of time. Another flour option, try the gluten-free whole grain blend from this recipe.

Adapted from Marian Burros and Lois Levine

Serves 12


  • Non-stick spray
  • 28 large, dark red fresh cherries
  • 1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) gluten-free flour blend or whole wheat pastry flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1 stick  (8 tablespoons or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup  (5 1/2 ounces or 165 grams) organic cane sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur (optional)
  • 1 extra tablespoon of sugar (1/2 ounce or 13 grams)


  1. Position oven rack in the center and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (177 C)
  2. Prepare your pan. Spray the bottom of a 9″ (23 cm) springform pan with non-stick spray and line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper.
  3. Start by washing, stemming and pitting your cherries. You can use a cherry pitter tool or a paring knife. Push the cherry through the tool to remove the pit or cut cherry in half and remove the pit. Halve cherries top to bottom and seer aside until needed.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with a hand-held electric mixer on high. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated and the batter is smooth. Add in the almond extract. Add in the flour on low speed to blend and incorporate until smooth. Batter will be thick.
  6. Scrape batter into the pan and smooth to the edges with a flexible spatula. Place the cherries cut side down on top of the batter completely covering the top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with the one extra tablespoon of sugar and drizzle with the Amaretto if using. Bake cake until deep golden on top, about 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester, toothpick or paring knife inserted in the center come out clean. Use your nose. When you can smell the cake baking, test it.
  7. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Run a thin, flexible paring knife around the inside of the pan edge to free the cake. Pop the spring and remove the sides of the pan. If serving warm, slice into twelve pieces. Serve plain, or dust with powdered sugar. A small scoop of ice cream is also nice.


  • Cake can be made a day ahead, cooled, wrapped well in plastic film and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
  • Pre-cut parchment rounds are very handy if you like to bake. Alternatively, trace a circle with the pan onto parchment and trim to the right size with scissors.
  • To reduce sugar, use 6 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons granular stevia        

Helpful Links:

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.


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This post contains links to Affiliate Programs, where I may receive a small commission for any purchases.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Madonna August 15, 2012 at 12:59 am

I love the thought of any cake that can be quickly assembled, but has a wow factor. Oh, and most anyone would have the ingredients on hand with the exception of the fruit. You can just tell by the color of this cake that it has flavor. Thanks again for another wonderful recipe.


2 Nan August 15, 2012 at 4:37 am

Hi Sally, I notice you mention eggs in the directions and yet there are no eggs listed in the ingredient list. I’d love to make this recipe but wonder about the eggs? Thanks!


3 Christina August 15, 2012 at 5:38 am

Hi Sally,

This cake looks absolutely yummy. A small note of clarification; the ingredients note 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons or 13 grams). Shouldn’t that be 113 grams? And the eggs? Also, any suggestions should you not have access to fresh cherries and have to resort to frozen ones? Thank you in advance!


4 Sally August 15, 2012 at 6:57 am

Hi Christina. Thanks for the catch. Just updated. I have not tried frozen cherries. Would be a good experiment. My only concern is their moisture content. If they are not too wet after thawing and draining it could work.


5 susan August 15, 2012 at 8:26 am

I am not a cake and frosting kind of gal – so not my style, This cake, on the other hand, is so something I would gobble up. Looks gorgeous, Sally!


6 Shut Up & Cook August 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

We’ve been up to our eyeballs in cherries, and running out of ideas of what to do with them…so this sounds like just the ticket!


7 Sally August 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Sally, this is my kind of cake! I haven’t been doing much baking, so you really inspired me with this. I can imagine it with nectarines, plums, raspberries, and even apples as the season winds down. I’ve made cakes with frozen berries, and I think as long as they are not defrosted first they will work. If I don’t get around to this soon enough, I’m willing to risk it….Thanks!


8 Russell van Kraayenburg August 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This is my kind of cake! It looks lovely!


9 Angie@Angie's Recipes August 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

This cherry cake looks divine!


10 August 17, 2012 at 6:37 am

Sally, you have inspired me to give clafoutis another try. I made it once and didn’t care for that particular rendition. Your recipe sounds great. Love the addition of the whole wheat pastry flour.


11 Kulinarna Wyspa August 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Classic recipe, but unfortunately I have never tried to prepare this cake myself. It is about time to change this. I will use your recipe, because it sounds very credible to me.


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