It’s a Sweet and Saucy baking bonanza! I swear, between the Daring Bakers’ Challenge on Thursday, a family dinner party on Friday, and dessert duty for Dr. O’s chamber group’s summer party on Saturday, I don’t know if I’ve ever baked so much in three days.
Today’s recipe was a fortuitous airport discovery. I don’t normally read Martha Stewart Living (except for the holiday projects in the fall – love them!), but I picked up the July issue when our flight from San Diego was delayed earlier this summer. It was packed full of fantastic summer recipes, but the recipe for Sour Cherry Crumb Cakes looked extra delicious. I actually made these a couple of weeks ago for my Denver family and they were a big hit, so I figured they’d be perfect for the chamber party.
To start, I buttered my 9 x 9-inch square Wilton baking pan, dusted it with flour, tapped out the excess, and set the pan aside.
For the topping, I stirred together 4 tablespoons of unsalted melted butter, 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of packed light-brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon until the mixture was crumbly. I set this aside as well.
To make the cakes, I whisked together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In the bowl of my stand mixer (though a regular hand mixer will work just as well), I creamed 1 stick of room-temperature butter with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar until it was pale yellow and fluffy. Next, I beat in 2 room-temperature eggs (one at a time) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I turned my mixer down to the lowest speed and added the flour mixture and 1/4 cup of buttermilk in alternating batches (1/3 of flour mixture, 1/8 cup of buttermilk, 1/3 of flour mixture, 1/8 cup of buttermilk, 1/3 of flour mixture) until everything was just combined.
The recipe said to pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, but mine was too thick (and I was worried, let me tell you). I spooned the batter into the dish and carefully smoothed it with an offset spatula.
For the cherries, the recipe said you could use either 1 pound (2 1/2 cups) of fresh pitted sour cherries or the same quantity of frozen (thawed) sweet cherries. I’ve only seen Bing and Rainier cherries here in Denver (both sweet), so I decided to go with frozen sweet. I had thawed them according to package directions before starting the recipe, so at this point, I just dotted the batter with them. (Based on the quantity of cherries and the size of the pan, “dotting” ended up meaning covering almost the entire surface of the batter.)
To finish, I sprinkled the cherries with the reserved crumb topping and baked the dish for 1 hour at 350F. (They should be golden and a cake tester should come out clean.) I let the cake cool completely and cut it into 16 individual cakes to serve.
The results were so incredibly delicious!
The cake is super moist, the topping is a bit crunchy, and the bars just taste so *buttery* despite the fact that there’s less than a tablespoon of butter per serving. They’re the perfect summer dessert. I especially love that I didn’t have to make any adjustments for altitude and still ended up with what I consider to be ideal results… I think the acidity of the buttermilk might have helped out a bit in that department.
Anyway, this one has achieved “permanent rotation” status. I can’t wait for the next batch!
TIPS: I think you can get away with using just about any type of fruit you’d like with these cakes. I used 1 pound of frozen (thawed) mixed berries for my second chamber batch, and the results were delicious. Peaches would be really tasty as well.
Recipe link: Sour Cherry Crumb Cakes