It’s the last weekend of cherries at the Cherry Pit at the CFM, and since we’re trying to squeeze the very most out of this last summer long weekend I made sure there was a bowlful on the table. I’m totally digging cherries this year – I’ve been halving them to scatter over pancake batter as it cooks and to stir into muffins instead of more predictable muffinberries. Driving through the Okanagan – cherry central – roadside stands provided a regular stash of totally local non-chip car snacks. The last remnants of summer are flip-flop tan lines and cherry-stained fingers.
Traditionally, I set aside the less than perfect or squishier cherries for baking with or tossing into smoothies or jam. Sometimes I’m on the ball and toss them in a bag in the freezer – other times I set them aside in a bowl on the counter to encourage the fruit flies. One day, I was motivated to bake a cake – using a recipe of Anne Murray‘s. Hers is more of a Christmassy version, made with copious amounts of candied cherries, but really the buttery pound cake acts as a perfect vehicle for fresh cherries, which I find aren’t used often enough in baking. Also? Vanilla and cherries get on so well together. And it’s the perfect sort of cake to transport to a backyard barbecue or party for which you’ve been asked to bring a little something to eat.
But really, this cake is a nice blank canvas – it could take on ripe peaches or apricots, blueberries, or chopped apples tossed in cinnamon-sugar as the market offerings change. A good pound cake is a nice thing to have tucked away in your repertoire – and it doesn’t have to be a Bundt; the batter would make two loaves instead if you’d rather use two 4×8-inch loaf pans instead, in which case they’d likely take about 50-60 minutes to bake. The drizzle is just icing sugar, thinned with cream and a drop more of vanilla.
Vanilla Cherry Cake
Adapted from Anne Murray. (Yes, the Anne Murray.)
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
grated zest of a lemon (optional)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 cups pitted, halved cherries
Preheat the oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each, then beat in the extracts and lemon zest.
Combine 3 1/2 cups of the flour with the baking powder and salt; add to the butter mixture in thirds, alternately with the milk. Toss the cherries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and stir into the batter.
Pour into a well-greased 10-inch Bundt pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until golden and the top is springy to the touch. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.