Sour cherries are only available fresh for a few short weeks in early summer. When they are in season, it’s always a frenzy at the farmers’ market to snag a few pounds of these glistening, highly-coveted cherries. While their season is short, you can almost always find them jarred or frozen at any Eastern European, Ukrainian or Russian market.
They are aptly named, as they are very sour when eaten raw. When they are cooked with any kind of sweetener, sour cherries transform into something much more palatable and subtly tart. Sour cherries are native to Europe and Southwest Asia. They are commonly grown in Eastern Europe. Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine features sour cherries in a myriad of recipes like compotes, vareniki, with blintzes or even pickled. Sour cherries are also popular in Persian, Turkish and Greek Jewish cuisine, where the fruit is often used in syrups, preserves and juice. It is also added to savory dishes like Persian saffron rice. Wherever sour cherries can be found, they are incorporated into that region’s local cuisine.
Sour cherries are especially delicious in baked goods, like this one-bowl sour cherry and sour cream snacking cake. This simple recipe can be prepared with either fresh, frozen or jarred sour cherries, and the sour cream can be substituted for Greek yogurt. The sour cream adds a rich tenderness to the cake that perfectly pairs with the bright acidity of the cherries. If you’re looking for a pareve alternative, you can make this cake non-dairy by substituting the butter for vegan butter and the dairy for a non-dairy unsweetened yogurt. This simple cake is perfect as a sweet treat at the end of a meal, or alongside a morning cup of coffee or tea. Whenever you eat it, sour cherry cake will sweeten your day.
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (225 g) sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 2 cups (290 g) all purpose flour + 1 Tbsp, divided
- 2 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh, frozen or jarred
- 1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9” square or round cake pan with parchment.
- In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the eggs, sugar and melted butter.
- Whisk until the mixture is light and fluffy, and increased in volume, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda and whisk together until fully incorporated.
- Add 2 cups of flour to the bowl, and using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix the batter until just combined and mostly smooth — be careful not to overmix.
- Dust the pitted cherries in the remaining tablespoon of flour; this helps the cherries from sinking to the bottom of the cake.
- Add the dusted cherries to the bowl and mix until just evenly incorporated.
- Transfer to the lined and greased baking pan. Top with the Turbinado sugar and a few extra cherries if desired.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a small skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool and serve topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. Keeps for 3-4 days stored covered at room temperature.