One of the pure food joys of living in Washington State is the abundance of cherries this time of year. We Teds consume an inordinate amount of them come early Summer, with breakfast yogurt and granola, by the handful for a snack, or, as below, for dessert. Last weekend our beloved Vashon Thriftway had these perfect Rainier cherries, and I was determined to build dessert around them. It was also an opportunity to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, a cherry pitter that’s a lot of fun (and a bit of a workout) to use. The following recipe is inspired by one in the NY Times Cooking app, and blends the moist, rich and deep scent of pound cake with a touch of cornmeal, that cherry zing, some almond crunch, that classic upside-down cake topping of butter and sugar, and the (optional) hint of sweet and fruity tequila.
Preheat oven to 350. Melt on the stovetop: 4 tablespoons butter
Stir in: ¾ cup light brown sugar
Stir in, let bubble and then calm down: 3 tablespoons tequila
Pour this mixture into the bottom of a large springform cake pan, and spread evenly.
Place so that they fill the bottom: 2-3 cups cherries (preferably Rainier)
Spread between and amongst the cherries: ½ cup slivered almonds
Mix in a bowl and set aside: 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, ¼ teaspoon salt
Cream: 8 tablespoons butter, add gradually and beat until fluffy: 1 cup of sugar
Add, one at a time: 4 egg yolks
Add, in thirds, beating lightly until blended, the dry mixture above alternately with: 2/3 cup yoghurt and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
Add, until just mixed: ½ cup slivered almonds
Beat until just stiff peaks: 4 egg whites
Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter. Fold in the remaining 1/3 of the egg whites.
Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted into the dough (only) comes out clean. Let the cake sit for a few minutes, then snap off the side of the pan, place your serving plat upside down on top of the cake, and turn over, revealing those wonderful cherries! Serve.
Relish Summer. And, then….
Save the leftover cake in the fridge. The moist dough will get a bit dense, but fear not! This turns into a terrific “twice-baked” treat.
Slice the cake into 1 ½ inch slices. Lay each slice with a big side face down on a baking sheet, and heat in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Flip onto the other side for another 5 minutes. This warms the cake and gives a nice super thin crustiness to each piece. Serve with piping hot coffee for a mid-morning treat!