Cheery Cherry Cake with Sour-Cherry Sauce

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Two of our family’s grandmas loved sour cherries. Jenny liked them sweetened up, while Clara’s sour-cherry pies were notorious for their pucker. But this recipe from Jenny comes down somewhere in the middle: the cheery cherry-dotted cake is sweet, but not too sweet. And you can follow Clara’s lead on the sauce and reduce the amount of sugar you use if you want to tart things up a bit. The simple cake bakes up quickly and works well plain as a snack cake or afternoon-tea treat. Topped with the warm sauce and vanilla ice cream, it becomes a more-indulgent dessert. Or—as we’ve done here—you can make a cherry cake parfait, layering bite-sized pieces of cake with cherry sauce and an ice-cream topper.granscherrypudding

Makes 9 servings; 1, 9 x 9 inch cake

Cheery Cherry Cake Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided. (use 1/3 cup for cake; remaining 3 Tbsp for sauce)
  • 1 cup pure-cane sugar, divided (use 1/3 cup for cake; remaining 1/3 cup for sauce–or less if you want it more tart
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • grated zest of 1 lemon (save the lemon to juice for the sauce recipe)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar-marinated sour cherries, drained (from recipe below)

Sugar-marinated Sour Cherries Ingredients

  • 3 cups sour cherries (pitted)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (or less, to suit your taste)

Sour Cherry Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups of the marinated sour cherries
  • 1 cup of the juice from the marinated cherries
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch


  1. Marinate cherries: Toss sour cherries with 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Allow to marinate for one hour.
  2. While cherries marinate, make batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip 1/3 cup butter for 1 to 2 minutes until light and fluffy; whip in 2/3 cup cane sugar.
  3. In a small separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, vanilla and lemon zest together
  4. Onto a sheet of waxed paper, sift salt, flour and baking powder together.
  5. Alternately add the liquid and then the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir until no streaks remain; don’t overbeat. This will make a fairly stiff batter.
  6. Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking pan. Spread batter in pan. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Strain 1/2 cup of cherries from the cherry/sugar mixture, pouring syrup back into the cherry bowl. Spread the 1/2 cup of drained cherries over the batter, dotting evenly. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until golden.
  8. Make sauce: Strain juice from the sugar-marinated cherries into a medium-sized sauce pan. Juice should measure 1 cup, or a little more. Add juice of fresh-squeezed lemon plus 4 Tbsp water. Sift 3 Tbsp corn starch over the cold juice. Whisk. Stir in 1/3 cup cane sugar. Whisk again over medium heat. Add butter. Stir into cherry sauce and continue to whisk until mixture is hot and bubbly, thickens and becomes clear. Stir in cherries and heat through. Set sauce aside.
  9. To assemble, slice cake and serve with scoop of ice cream, warm cherry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with micro-grated lemon zest. OR to serve as a parfait: Spoon small amount of cherry sauce into parfait glass, top with bite sized pieces of cherry cake; continue layering to top of glass. Top with scoop of ice cream, more sauce and dollop of whipped cream with micro-grated lemon zest garnish.

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