Cherry Coffee Cake

Some people flinch when I'm in the kitchen. I tend to deviate from recipes and get a little creative. That can only go one of two ways: 'oh yum yum' or 'what is this crap?' That's how you learn. If you always followed life by the book- there wouldn't be much spice now would there? Everyone has a set image of how things are supposed to be; should be; and do what they can to make sure they have all their ingredients lined up. Pretty standard issue. You gotta mix it up people! Does that make sense? Sure, some things are true and tested (i.e. recipes)- but I still gotta learn the hard way.

This is me shaking the recipe book. Ever since I saw cherries in the grocery store a few weeks back, I've been dying to use them. Not cherries from a can or some funky compote. Real. Juicy. Yummy. Cherries. I cannot find any good recipes! If you know any, please leave a comment.

I went out on the creative limb here and substituted rhubarb with cherry in these coffee cakes. Honestly, they are pretty darn good. I didn't let it cool off for the first bite and was disappointed. Hot cherries aren't easy to eat. I came back to it once it had cooled off. I was in for a happy surprise. Bear in mind, this is not your conventional coffee cake :D

My only comment is the crumble. I'm used to coffee cake being really crumbly on the top, like my coconut-banana muffins. This was more chunky. I prefer a bed of light crumble on top of the cake. Next time I make this, I'm going to substitute the crumble with that from the muffins. Also, because the cherries are so juicy, the cake absorbs some of the flavor. I think the ginger added zest but may not be for everyone.

I hope you guys like it! Again, it's no coffee cake you're going to get a Starbucks. I'm kinda happy about that though.

Note: some people don't like mace. It's a bit strong and used in many middle eastern dishes. I actually like using it a little (not a lot) to kick up the flavor of spice. The mace is optional.


Adapted from: The New York Times

Cherry filling:

1/2 pound cherries, cleaned and cut
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Crumbs:

1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour or all-purpose

Cake:

1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mace (optional)
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

Garnish:

Confectioners sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch-square baking pan.

For filling... pit and clean cherries. Cut into halves or quarters and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs... in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

Prepare the cake... in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon cherries over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over cherries; it does not have to be perfect.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter, about 45 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.