Some days when you are home and you suddenly crave for a cake, you just whisk a few ingredients at hand and in less than hour, you have a cake. This is one of those cakes, but there is just a small and simple twist in this basic vanilla cake recipe which combines sweet and sour: cherries! And if you don’t have cherries hanging around or in your local grocery store 2 minutes from your apartment, then you can replace it with blueberries, raspberries, any berries you like really.
Most of the time, cake and cherries make people think of a grand Black Forest gâteau. Silky cake layers moist with cherry liqueur and sour cherries, a bit of cream in between, topped with more cream and more cherries. Yum. It is one of my favourite cakes to bake and to eat! But cherries are not only for this grand cake and they work lovely with much more modest cakes too.
I saw this recipe in various websites so I don’t know where the original version comes from. It almost always uses cake flour. In Helsinki I don’t think there is cake flour sold separately (I didn’t really look much into it though) so in my version all purpose flour is used. The difference between cake flour and regular flour is the percentage of gluten. Cake flour has a little less gluten in it, which makes cakes softer and spongier than other baked goods like bread. If you reduce the amount of regular flour by a few tablespoons and replace it with cornstarch, you get cake flour – less gluten percentage but good structure and sponginess thanks to cornstarch.
This lovely soft and delicious cake takes less than an hour to prepare and bake. You just need to take your butter out of the fridge in advance to soften it and you’re good to go (well, it is an issue in Finland so I always have to give it a good time to soften but of course if you are living in a very warm place, it would get significantly less time to soften). Enjoy your cake!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(Makes 1 cake with 20x30cm oven pan. If you want a bit thicker cake, you may use a 20x20cm square cake pan or 20cm round springform pan. You might have to adjust the baking time a bit in that case.)
1 1/2 cups / 3.6 dl all purpose flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup / 1.2 dl / 113 gr butter, softened in room temperature
1/2 cup / 1.2 dl granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
250 gr. sour cherries, jarred and well drained (or you can use fresh but it takes time to take the stones..) – In Helsinki, you can find jarred sour cherries in K-market Kamppi, Stockmann and Heinon Tukku. If you can’t find cherries, feel free to use berries.
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare your oven pan – grease it and cover the base with baking paper.
2. Take away 3 tbsp of flour from your flour measurement (and put that back to your flour storage).
3. Sift remaining flour, cornstarch, baking paper and salt. Put aside.
4. In a mixing bowl, put butter and sugar and whisk well until you get a nice, creamy mixture.
5. Add eggs one by one, giving time for ingredients to mix well in between (and scraping sides with a spatula if you need). Add vanilla extract and continue whisking.
6. Add half flour, half milk, remaining flour and remaining flour in mixture in this order and whisk them in between each step. Do not over mix; just mix until the ingredients are incorporated.
7. Spread cake batter on the pan. Smoothen the surface with a spatula. Put cherries on top. Bake for 40 minutes in the middle rack of the oven, until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. (If you want a darker look on the surface, spread some granulated white sugar on top of the cake – a very thin layer – before putting in the oven.) Let the cake cool for 10 minutes at least, before serving. Enjoy!