Cherry Layer Cake
Jeez, where to begin with the saga that is this cake? I suppose with the oven. This German oven has it out for me when it comes to layer cakes. Seriously. It loves cookies, bars, and cupcakes. But if you stick a layer cake in there, you better believe it’s coming out underdone. The only other layer cake I’ve made in this oven was my Daughter’s first Birthday cake back in September. It baked up so horribly that I hadn’t bothered making another one until yesterday. I had assumed that my cake from September came out underdone simply because I had just moved into my new house and wasn’t used to the oven. It had been months without any disasters so I thought it was safe to try again. WRONG. The oven has a vendetta for layer cakes. Actually, when I think about it logically it is probably because my oven is so small. Since it is tiny and almost entirely unventilated, it is prone to over-browning things. My theory is that it bakes the top of the cake way before it bakes the center. It appears to be done because of the browning and the toothpick comes out clean for reasons of unknown origin. But regardless, just like my last layer cake, this cake started to cave in the center a few short minutes out of the oven. When I removed it from the pan it was incredibly obvious that the cake was still gooey inside. My baking savvy friend that was helping me suggested that we flip the cake upside down- leaving the parchment on the bottom of the pan, but baking the bottom as the top now to prevent over-baking the former top. Does that make sense? Well, it worked very well! I was shocked, I didn’t think you could throw a cake back in the oven like that. Apparently you can. And with fairly good results too- so, thank you! I love learning new things in the kitchen : ) We baked it an additional 13 minutes or so. It was. of course, a little bit crusty around the edges from being double baked, but when we leveled it, most of that was cut off anyways.
Now if I had baked this long enough and in a normal oven I would have been much more pleased with the recipe obviously. But regardless, all problems had with this cake were baker-error, not recipe-error. The batter came out quite beautiful actually. I was surprised about that too because it was so thick before folding in the egg whites that I had to mix it for a while to get it homogenous. The cake didn’t bake up tough in the least though- the wonder’s of cake flour, I swear.
Instead of using the 7-minute frosting that was given in this recipe, I went with a cherry cream cheese frosting. I find that 7-minute frostings can be very wet and don’t hold up well. Ha the jokes on me because my cherry cream cheese frosting came out so wet that my top layer was practically sliding off the bottom. Again- my error. My cream cheese and butter had been out so long that they were way beyond “room temperature”. They were borderline melted… Plus! I neglected to check if I had confectionary sugar before buying the ingredients for this recipe. Guess what? I barely had enough. Although I usually never use the full amount called for in a recipe anyways (especially with buttercream), I find that it always makes the frosting too sweet. But in cases like this, it would have been nice to have to thicken it and make it more stable. I probably used about 4 cups when it called for 6. It still worked for the most part and it was delicious, so I’m not going to complain too much.
Alright, enough of that. I think it’s about time I actually shared with you the outcome of the cake as far as taste. It was yummy! Especially if you like cherry and almond extract. This cake is very good. And if you take your time and execute it properly, there is no reason it shouldn’t come out tasting even better than mine did. Even with all the over-baking and extensive folding of the batter, the interior texture of the cake was still nice and soft and fluffy. I think that’s saying something.
I used a 10 oz jar of salad Maraschino cherries (without stems) and I ended up with a handful of leftover cherries to use for decorating, as well as almost exactly 1/2 cup of juice. It worked out perfectly. Also, I baked my cakes in two 8″ round pans. The recipe asks for 9″- if you use 8″ like I did, you will want to make the cake about 5 minutes or so longer.
For the Cake:
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup vegetable shortening
- 1½ cups sugar
- ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 16 maraschino cherries, cut into eighths
- 5 egg whites, room temperature, stiffly beaten
For the Frosting:
- 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
- 6 cups confectionary sugar
For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round layer cake pans (line bottoms with parchment, if desired) and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about five minutes.
Measure out the milk, almond extract, and cherry juice into one liquid measuring cup together. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternately add the wet and dry to the creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition. Fold in the cherries.
Stiffly beat egg whites in a separate bowl. Fold in ⅓ of egg whites to batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites until the mixture is well combined.
Divide the batter between pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until springy to touch.
Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Using a thin knife, loosen carefully around edges and turn out onto the racks. Cool to room temperature.
For the Frosting: Cream together the butter and cream cheese with half the confectionary sugar. Add the cherry juice. Mix in enough of the remaining confectionary sugar to get the taste and consistency desired.
If using two 8″ round cake pans, bake an additional 5-7 minutes.