At some point, I decided had to make something pink for Valentine’s Day. My Pinterest feed has been absolutely filled with heart-shaped-chocolate-this and pink-sprinkled-that. After my failed attempt at making pink cupcakes (failure in that they turned blue, although they were still delicious), this was my chance at redemption. I chose one of my favourite stand-by recipes: Cherry Vanilla Tea Cake from Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful
It always turns out perfectly, and the cherries are a delightfully reddish pink, perfect for Valentine’s.
The universe was conspiring against me this week. They didn’t have the required canned, pitted sweet cherries at my grocery store. Instead, I bought two enormous cans of mixed fruit salad that was apparently “loaded” with cherries – certainly, I thought, there would be enough between the two cans for 1 cup of cherries? Nope. Barely half a cup. Those cans of fruit salad lied to me.
Faced with failure, I subbed some strawberries I had leftover for the other half of the cherries, and thankfully the final product was as tasty as usual.
This is an incredibly light, soft cake whose interior stays moist due to the addition of sour cream. The batter is flavoured with lemon zest and vanilla, and the cherries and berries add a burst of sweetness to every bite. My favourite part, though, is the vanilla bean sugar dusted over the top while the cake is still warm, allowing it to melt into some of the crevasses.
I’d never made vanilla sugar before I tried this recipe, but it is incredibly easy and I will definitely be finding more uses for it. All you do is scrape the seeds from a fresh vanilla bean into a dish of sugar, and use your fingers to rub and blend the two together until evenly mixed. I’m thinking it would make an amazing addition to pancakes or waffles, or really any sweet baked good.
The last of this cake will likely have vanished from my house by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, but if you’re looking for a pretty pink dessert to eat with your significant other (or your friends/kids/cats/any other loved ones) on February 14th, look no further.
- 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel/zest
- ½ cup canned pitted sweet cherries, halved & drained
- ½ cup strawberries, chopped
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg into a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla extract.
- Transfer 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredient mixture to a small bowl. At low speed, beat half the remaining dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then mix in sour cream and lemon peel. Beat in remaining half of dry ingredients. Mix cherries and strawberries into reserved 2 tablespoons of dry ingredients; fold cherries and strawberries into batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated oven until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool 10 minutes.
- Using a small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into small bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon white sugar, using your fingertips to distribute seeds. Add powdered sugar and rub again.
- Sift vanilla sugar over still-warm cake. Cool completely. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides.
- Can be made 1 day ahead: keep covered at room temperature.
Source: Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful
by Barbara Fairchild