Sweet Cherry Cake

By Sally Cameron on August 14, 2012

baked goods, dessert, gluten-free,


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.

Stained Fingernails

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Leave a Comment
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.

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!

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!

    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.

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!

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!

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!

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

This is my kind of cake! It looks lovely!

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

This cherry cake looks divine! | 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.

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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