Summer Was Made For Cherry Snacking Cake
I fell for this recipe hook, line, and sinker.
With emphasis on the “sinker.”
Allow me to explain: If you were to look up this fabulous Bon Appetit recipe that published in its April 2021 issue, you’d find the original one titled, “Strawberry Snacking Cake.” The accompanying photos would show a golden cake baked in a rectangular pan, with its top adorned so prettily with slices of strawberries arranged just so.
I decided to riff on that by swapping out strawberries for first-of-the-season cherries from G.L. Alfeiri Farm that arrived in my Farm Box delivery. Only, cherry halves are obviously heavier, as they sunk to the bottom of the cake. So, instead of cute little cherry halves dotting the top like polka dots, there are ripples of cherry curd brightening it here and there instead. It’s not quite the same effect, but it makes for a striking appearance, nevertheless.
The taste definitely remains on point, too. “Cherry Snacking Cake” is wonderfully moist, fluffy, and lush from olive oil and sour cream (I actually used yogurt instead) in the batter. There’s a toasty, sweet corn-like grainy crunch from cornmeal. Jam or fruit curd gets dolloped on top, then swirled into the batter before the cut fresh fruit goes overtop.
With an abundance of fruit flavor, it’s like cherry pie in cake form.
You don’t even need a mixer to make this cake. Best yet, it takes to so many variations. I used fresh cherries along with a sample of sour cherry curd I had received from The Unsweetened Tooth, a Seattle company that makes products without added sugar.
But you could easily swap in instead fresh blueberries with blueberry jam, fresh blackberries with blackberry jam, fresh raspberries with raspberry jam, or fresh figs with fig jam. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
And should your fruit end up careening below deck, don’t despair. You’ll still end up with a cake with a delightfully buoyant personality.
Cherry Snacking Cake
(Makes one 13-by-9-inch cake)
8 ounces fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and cut in half
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus more for pan
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup fine-grind cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup cherry or sour cherry jam or curd
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently toss cherries, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until ready to use.
Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan with oil. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 long sides. Grease parchment with oil. Generously sprinkle pan and parchment with sugar, tilting to coat pan in an even layer; tap out excess.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, 1 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, sour cream or yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl until well combined. Add dry ingredients to sour cream mixture and whisk gently to combine. Using a spatula, gradually fold in ¾ cup oil until batter is smooth and homogeneous with all of the oil incorporated.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Using a small spoon, dollop jam onto surface. Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently swirl jam into batter. Arrange reserved cherries on top of batter in even rows, touching at widest points. Sprinkle all over with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
Bake cake until risen and deeply bronzed with no damp spots in the middle and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes.
Do Ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Cover with foil and store at room temperature.
Adapted from a Sarah Jampel recipe, published in Bon Appetit in April 2021
More Cherry Recipes to Enjoy: Cherry Focaccia with Rosemary
And: Cherry Snow Cone