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.
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.
I love cakes you can 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.
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. 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. Almond extract replaces the vanilla, and a splash of Amaretto at the end adds even more almond flavor.
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.
For serving, all this cake needs is the simple embellishment of a little powdered sugar or a small scoop of ice cream. No fancy, sugary, buttery (high fat and calorie) icing required.