Of all the stone fruits, cherries are my very favourite. Come June and July, my thoughts turn to cherries again and again as the anticipation of their arrival builds. Before I know it, I’m enjoying fresh cherries harvested from our own trees or those of family and friends.
Growing up, we had a particularly beautiful cherry tree in our backyard. As lovely as the cherry blossoms were, I always enjoyed the days after they fell from the tree, when our entire backyard looked like a carpet of white and pink. When my father announced one day that the cherry tree was old and sick and would have to be cut down, it was a great loss indeed.
Thus far, the summer has been particularly kind to Southern Ontario. Fruits and vegetables abound and most gardeners will tell you that their gardens havenâ€™t grown this well in years. Itâ€™s a small blessing in the middle of this large life. Be it a good or bad day, I canâ€™t think of many things that match the simple, breathtaking beauty of a sweet cherry, warmed by the sun, exploding in your mouth. The flavour is like nothing else.
And just as I used to wait anxiously for the cherry blossoms to bloom and then gracefully fall, each summer, I wait anxiously for the ripe cherries to arrive so that I can make this cherry coffeecake. I came across the recipe for this cake several years ago. Since then, I cannot imagine cherry season passing us by without this glorious little cake gracing our family table.
I hope it will grace yours as well.
Adapted from Scones, Muffins, and Tea Cakes: Breakfast Breads and Teatime Spreads by Heidi H. Cusick.
Note: This lovely little cookbook is one of those gems that you sometimes come across while perusing the sales table. (That’s how I found it!) It’s delightful with lots of pretty pictures and simple, yet elegant recipes. I highly recommend the book if you can find a copy!
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups cherries (preferably red), washed and pitted
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
- Thoroughly combine all of the topping ingredients in a bowl with a fork or with your fingers. Set aside.
For the cake:
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
- Either with a wooden spoon or with a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
- Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the batter all at once and mix just until the ingredients are wet. Don’t over mix the batter.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be a bit sticky and might be difficult to spread but don’t worry. Level it off as best you can.
- Sprinkle the prepared topping evenly over the batter.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
- Let cool completely before removing the cake from the pan.