Friday, July 13, 2012

Cherry Vanilla Cake with Almond Streusel

What do you do when you have fresh cherries in the fridge?

Snack on them.  Endlessly.

At least, that's my husband's philosophy.  He's a snacker by nature - he will walk by the fridge about 15 times a day just to grab a handful of strawberries or a couple cherries.  If I look in the refrigerator at the end of that day, I'll be shocked by the depleted store of fruit!

See, I buy food with a purpose.  I try to only shop once a week, buying exactly what I think we'll need for meals and structured snacks for the week.  Fruit, for me, goes into cereal, salads, or baked goods, and I try to have the amount in the fridge that I'll need for whatever project I have in mind.
So you can imagine that having a snacker for a husband...complicates things sometimes.

It has, however, alerted me to the kinds of things that he really likes.
It works like this: if it disappears under my nose, it's a favorite.  So based on that criteria, I try to use the supply that's left to make little treats that he'll like.

Like this cake, for example.

I felt the urge to bake, saw this gorgeous cake pop up on Two Peas and Their Pod, and decided to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand.  The cherry supply - which started at close to three pounds - had been drastically depleted by snacking, but I had exactly enough left for the cake!

I changed the recipe up a bit to include only what I had in stock, but whether you use the original recipe or my adaptation, I can pretty much guarantee you'll be happy.  The original recipe uses almond extract in the cake, almond paste in the streusel, and an almond glaze.  I left off the glaze entirely, swapped out the almond extract for an extra dose of Tahitian vanilla extract - which is heavenly when combined with fruit - and used slivered almonds to add a crunch to the streusel topping.

The day I made this, I left it on the counter to cool while I went to work.  Jon got home before I did, and let's just say I'm lucky I came home to a whole cake!  He told me it took all his willpower to keep his hands off of it, but I don't think he regretted the wait when we cut into it after dinner: it was soft, moist, and bursting with flavor.  Neither one of us was displeased with the idea of having a piece every night after :)

I don't have a cherry pitter, so pitting and halving the cherries was thus a lengthy and messy process.  It was totally worth it for such a delicious and versatile cake, but I'd definitely suggest investing in one!  It takes the cake from a special occasion cake to something you could make and eat any night!

Or any morning.
Say, a lazy Friday morning while watching Boy Meets World in your pajamas.

Not like I actually do that...or anything...

Cherry Vanilla Cake with Almond Streusel
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

For the cake:
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved

For the streusel:
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚F with a rack placed in the center.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9" springform pan and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until pale yellow and very fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla extract, and buttermilk and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.  Smooth the top and arrange the cherries on top of the batter.
To make the streusel, crumble together the butter, flour, and brown sugar with clean hands.  Add the almonds and toss together, then cover the top of the unbaked cake with streusel.
Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes.  Then, lower the oven temperature to 325˚ and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool completely in the pan.  Slice and serve as desired, for breakfast, brunch, or dessert.  Enjoy!


  1. This is such a lovely cake! My husband is a snacker too, especially with fruit. Guess I'll have to make this! :-)

  2. If you make this again, you can use Alton Brown's cherry pitting method: just push a straw through the cherry to push out the pit. You'll probably have to use a couple of straws, but definitely cheaper than a pitter (which is a dreaded monotasker, anyway! haha)