Sour Cherry Cake

Even though we’re in the midst of packing up to move to a new home, I had to find time to make this cake for two reasons. First, sour cherries are only in season for about two weeks in a year and I just couldn’t wait another year for sour cherry cake. Second, my dad took the time to kindly pick the cherries for me. They could not go to waste!

This cake takes a little more effort than most of my recipes. But it’s well worth it. Trust me.

I apologize in advance if you can’t find sour cherries. They are never in grocery stores – they’re too perishable. But if you have a great farmers market near you, you may be able to find them this time of year (end of June). And even though the sour cherries are the heart and soul of this recipe, you can substitute them with canned cherry pie filling.

This recipe is from my mother (thanks, Lan!). Not sure where it originated from, but it’s a gem.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 quart sour cherries
1/2 cup butter, divided (1 stick cut in half)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

First, you’ll need to pit the cherries. I’ll be honest – this part sucks. No matter what, it takes time, but the easiest way is to use a sharp, small paring knife to dig out the cherry pits.


About halfway through pitting the cherries, you will think about quitting. You’ll swear that you’ll never make this cake again. But don’t give up! Once you taste the finished cake, you’ll be wishing you had more cherries to pit.

Now onto the baking…

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put 1/4 cup of butter (half a stick) in a 9 x 13 pan and melt in the preheating oven. Once the butter is melted, mix in the brown sugar.


Pat the brown sugar/butter mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Then arrange the cherries over top and set aside. So pretty!


Cream the remaining 1/4 cup of butter with 3/4 cup of sugar and the vanilla. When it’s adequately creamy and fluffy, beat in one egg. Then add the salt and baking powder.

Next, beat in the flour alternately with the milk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour, like so:
– Mix in 1/3 of the flour
– Mix in half the milk
– Mix in another 1/3 of the flour
– Mix in the rest of the milk
– Mix in the last of the flour

Do not over beat! Mix only until smooth.

Then spread the cake batter gently over the cherries.


Mix the remaining teaspoon of sugar with the nutmeg and sprinkle over the batter.

Pop the pan in the oven and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.



Make sure you eat a piece of this cake when it’s warm. Prepare to have your mind blown. Memories of the cherry pitting chore disappear instantly with one bite. So good. I’m already looking forward to Sour Cherry Season 2014!



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