July 11, 2011

summer cakes

I got lucky. I did not know what to do with our strawberries and I did not know what to do while L was nursing so I just mindlessly clicked online while she was nursing. I saw a Strawberry Summer Cake recipe posted not too long ago on Smitten Kitchen (yes, the one you want to live in), and I thought, "Wow, this looks easy and pretty and scrumptious! I think I am going to have to make this!"

Strawberry Summer Cake
And so I made the cake. So simple and easy, with glorious results. I would agree with Deb, the sugar in the batter can easily be scaled back by 2 tablespoons without hurting the flavor of the cake at all. It is such a moist, lovely cake with depth in flavor, and the juicy berries in every bite just adds to its decadence. The bright yellow color of the cake makes you think you are biting into lovely sunshine. We served it with whipped cream (but of course! A German afternoon tea/coffee is never without a bowl of freshly whipped cream, either to go with cakes, scones or into the coffee, and I will always follow my mother-in-law's good example!) and devoured the cake with three lusty groans per bite. It took every ounce of discipline to not eat the entire cake at one go.

And as we enjoyed the cake, I told R, "I am sure this cake will be as wonderful with sour cherries." He agreed. In fact, I think it will go well with all summer berries and could not wait to go berry-picking. (And finally, after having read Jamberry with all my children so many million times, I could finally appreciate the exuberant joy of picking your own berries!) I can imagine making a blueberry summer cake with this, adding some lemon zest into the batter, and maybe even making some lemon sugar to sprinkle over the blueberries.  In the mean time, I got a jar of sour cherries from Trader Joe's and baked a sour cherry summer cake.

I did not get the cherries lined up real neat but it does not matter, as some sunk and some not during baking. Nobody will really care!
I brought the cake for the local moms group potluck picnic and saw a 5-year-old little girl gobble up three pieces of the cake. She was a sight to behold, and I just enjoyed watching her eat the cake with such relish: she cupped her little hands around the piece of cake then sunk her face into it, aiming first at the cherries. Then, when she had lifted her face from the cake and saw that all the cherries were gone, she pressed her palms together and squished the remaining cake crumbs and inhaled the rest of the cake. I wish I had taken a video. It was so fun and I think nothing warms a cook's heart than to watch someone enjoy the results of her labor.

I doubled the original recipe to make this in an 8 by 12 pan, and will highly recommend you do the same. This cake is worth a second, even third helping and you would love being able to share the joy of it.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes one 8 by 12 cake

  • 12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 3 Tbsp for sprinkling
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 24-oz jar pitted sour cherries, drained
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter an 8 by 12 cake pan.
  2. Whisk flour together with baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a stand mixer beat butter with sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and mix until just combined (start low so you won't have everything splattering into your face). Add flour mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
  4. Pour batter into cake pan. Arrange sour cherries whichever way you like on top of the batter. Sprinkle the 3 Tbsp of sugar over the cherries.
  5. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325F and bake for another 45-55 minutes until golden brown, delicious wafts of sunshine fill the kitchen and a tester comes out of the cake dry.
  6. Cool on a rack. Serve with lightly whipped cream. 
  7. Due to the high moisture content, I will not recommend keeping it for more than a day (eat more or invite people over for tea).


  1. I made this a few weeks ago, and I agree. It was delicious

  2. making it today! I need some cherry sunshine!