Every year I go through decision paralysis as I try to figure out what kind of cake I want to bake. For my husband’s birthday, it’s easy: “pick whichever one you want.” I can never narrow down a favorite , however, though I tend to be more of a yellow cake kind of gal. This year, as I was perusing the cakes I have pinned on Pinterest, a couple recipes for cherry cake caught my eye. And for me, it fit the most important criterion: it was pink!
Deciding which recipe to use was no easy task. Both sounded lovely and it’s hard not being able to taste them without making them! Ultimately, my deciding factor was that one of the recipes used cherry oil, which sadly, I do not own. But I did use the whipped cherry filling from it, which was a wonderful contrast to the buttercream frosting. Just look how beautiful and fluffy it looked!
I ended up modifying the cake recipe so that I could bake three layers. After baking them and allowing them to cool completely, I wrapped them in cling wrap and put them in the freezer overnight. This made them easier to handle while stacking them and easier to frost. It also helps if you end up cutting the layers with either a serrated knife or a cake leveler, which I still hate doing.
An amazing tip I learned from Sweetapolita is to use a little bit of the batter to make a cupcake/mini cake to use as a tester! Pure genius! Amazingly, I had just bought a little casserole dish (that looks like a ramekin) on clearance that week so I used it to make a mini cake! I wrapped it in cling wrap and froze it as well since it needed to be trimmed and cut in half. It was an adorable personal-sized layer cake! (Sadly, I couldn’t get the icing to swirl like I wanted because my flat spatula felt huge, so there aren’t any final pictures to post.) The best part was that as genius as this idea was, we didn’t end up eating it as a taste-test!
To frost the cake, I used Sweetapolita’s swirl effect. You can find a video tutorial here. Make sure your icing isn’t too stiff, like mine was, or else the colors won’t swirl very well. People still gave compliments but it ended up looking almost airbrushed because I was so focused on making it completely smooth.
This cake did not disappoint: the cake was moist, the almond buttercream was dense and rich, and the whipped filling provided a nice counterbalance to the buttercream since it was light and airy. Both recipes called for swiss meringue frosting, which would probably pair beautifully, but I tend to prefer sweeter frostings. If you decide to use buttercream, I would note that you probably want smaller pieces due to it’s sweetness.
Cherry-Vanilla Layer Cake
Adapted from: Sprinkle Bakes
Makes three 9-inch layer cakes
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 & 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup whole milk
3/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
3 teaspoons almond extract
3 tablespoons flour for sprinkling over diced cherries
15 oz bottle maraschino cherries, finely chopped
Two to three drops of red food coloring (optional)
6 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
1. Preheat oven to 340-degrees F. Grease three 9-inch pans and line with parchment paper. (Remember to make a cupcake for tasting!)
2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
4. Combine the milk, cherry juice and almond extract, and add alternately to the butter and sugar with the flour mixture ending with the flour.
5. In a small bowl, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour over the diced cherries and stir until the flour has been completely absorbed. (They will be messy and possibly still juicy, which is okay.)
6. Fold the cherries into the batter and add in food coloring if desired.
7. Transfer the cake batter to a large bowl (I used the one I had the flour mixture in). Rinse out the stand mixer bowl and wipe dry.
8. Add the egg whites to the bowl of the stand mixer, and using the whisk attachment, beat to stiff peaks. (Our roommate wanted to try this by hand – it didn’t work but was very entertaining!)
9. Fold the stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter.
10. Pour into prepared cake pans and cupcake liner/ramekin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
11. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
12. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes before cutting/frosting the cake.
Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling
Recipe Source: Sweetapolita
Makes enough to fill a three-layer 9-inch round cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice/syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
a handful of finely chopped maraschino cherries
1. Using the paddle attachment, whip the butter in the bowl of stand mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes until butter is very pale and creamy.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except the cherries, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes, until very light, creamy, and fluffy.
3. Fold in the chopped cherries.
(This is best used right away for ideal spreading consistency.)
Adapted from: Baked Perfection
Makes enough to frost a three-layer 9-inch round cake
2 sticks of butter, softened
6 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons almond extract (I used clear)
2-4 tablespoons milk
1. Beat butter and almond extract in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamy. At first, the extract and butter will act like they aren’t going to incorporate but give them a few minutes.
2. Add the salt. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.