Fresh sweet cherries and a simple vanilla cake featuring all-purpose flour, almond flour, and almond extract come together to make this light and flavorful fresh cherry almond cake made completely from scratch. The cherries are mixed throughout the batter and also nestled on top of the cake for a pretty finish. Add a dusting of powdered sugar and you have dessert, or a dollop of yogurt for coffee cake.
I have good news: this fresh cherry almond cake is equally at home on the dessert table as it is for a breakfast coffee cake or tea cake, which means: cake for all meals, hooray!
As often happens in the summer, I was recently a little overzealous in my cherry buying. Sweet cherries compete with peaches for my favorite summer fruit and I can never resist them. I eat them by the handful and the pits always pile up way faster on my plate than they do on Brian’s…oh well.
But sometimes I buy way too much, even by my standards. When that has happened in the past, I’ve turned to cherry cobbler or roasted cherry ice cream to use them up…but this year I felt like cake. I’ve always loved cherry almond flavored desserts so it was a no-brainer to create a cherry almond cake!
This cake is adapted from my rhubarb cake (also seen in my plum coffee cake) which is a standard buttermilk-based cake with a mix of all-purpose flour and almond flour. I decided to eliminate the buttermilk here in favor of regular milk (to let the almond flavor shine through) and increased the amount of baking powder to compensate for the lost chemical reaction between buttermilk and baking soda.
Baking: it’s science!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the cherry almond cake. For the full list of ingredients and measurements, go below to the recipe card.
- Almond flour made from blanched ground almonds; I’ve used Trader Joe’s and Fresh Thyme almond flour brands with similar results.
- All-purpose flour (you can use a 1:1 gluten-free all purpose flour blend if needed)
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter at room temperature. You can leave the butter out for an hour OR do 20 seconds in the microwave on 50% power to get the butter to room temp. This is important so it creams and aerates with the sugar!
- Granulated sugar
- Lemon zest for flavor
- Eggs. It’s best if these are room temperature as well, but I’ve gotten away with cold eggs so don’t sweat it too much.
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract (there really is no substitute for this!)
- Milk of any kind (dairy or non-dairy; I used almond milk)
- Fresh sweet cherries – you could also use frozen sweet cherries as long as you thaw them first!
- Additional granulated sugar for a crunchy top
How to make cherry almond cake: step by step
- We’re using the traditional creaming method for this cake, so you will need a mixer. I like to use my hand mixer for less mess, but a stand mixer works great.
- You’ll also need a 9-inch round springform pan or a regular 9″ round cake pan with at least 2″ high sides.
- I also like to use a cherry pitter to make pitting the cherries way faster and easier (and less messy). My favorite one is only $15 and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it!
Making this cake takes several steps, but none are very complicated:
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and pit your cherries, then slice them in half. Set aside.
Step 2: Whisk together your dry ingredients in a medium bowl (and ideally, just measure them into that bowl using a scale for most accurate results!). This will let them blend better with the wet ingredients later so we don’t have to mix as long and risk over-developing the gluten.
Step 3: Cream together room temperature butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. The mixture will be fragrant! Then beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and milk.
Step 4: Beat in the flour mixture on the lowest possible speed just until the batter comes together.
Step 5: Set aside a handful of the halved cherries to press on top of the cake batter, then fold the rest directly into the batter using a rubber spatula. Spread batter into your 9-inch springform or cake pan.
Step 6: Press the remaining cherry halves evenly on top of the cake, then sprinkle with 1-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar.
Step 7: BAKE! This will take about 45 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely before removing from the pan and serving!
- To keep your hands from looking like a crime scene when pitting cherries, use a cherry pitter to make the process way faster and easier (and less messy). My favorite one is only $15 and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it!
- Make sure you don’t overbeat the batter once the flour is added. Just mix until batter is smooth with no flour pockets, and stop there. Too much mixing overdevelops the gluten and leads to tough cake. No one wants tough cake.
The cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours, although it is best the day it’s made with the crunchy sugar top.
You can refrigerate the cake for up to 5 days, tightly covered so it doesn’t dry out.
Cake can be frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 months. Leave on the counter to thaw for at least 2-3 hours, or thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
Additions and Substitutions
Frozen cherries: you can substitute frozen cherries for the fresh as long as you thoroughly thaw and drain them first. Make sure to slice them in half before using so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake.
Almond flour: if you don’t have almond flour, you can substitute 1/4 cup (31 grams) additional all-purpose flour in its place.
Almond extract: there is no real substitution for this, but if you don’t have it, you could add an additional teaspoon of vanilla extract for an assertively vanilla-flavored cherry cake.
More Summer Dessert Recipes:
Fresh Cherry Almond Cake
- 2 cups (10 oz; 285g) fresh sweet cherries (measure before pitting)
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (48g) almond flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon (approximately 1 tbsp)
- 2 large eggs (ideally at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) milk of choice (dairy or non-dairy both work)
- 1 Tablespoon (14g) unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)
- 1 Tablespoon (12g) granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top)
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pit the cherries (a cherry pitter is great for this) and slice in half; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest together at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed after each, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and beat briefly to combine.
- Add a third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined, then add half the milk and beat on low speed again. Repeat with remaining third of flour mixture, the rest of the milk, and end with the last third of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until the batter is smooth, but do not overmix.
- Reserve a handful of the cherry halves for arranging on top of the cake, and add the rest to the cake batter. Fold cherries into the batter gently with a rubber spatula.
- Spread the batter into a greased 9-inch springform pan (or a high-sided 9" round cake pan, if you don't have a springform). Arrange remaining cherry halves in whatever pattern you like over top of the batter.
- Brush melted butter evenly over top of the cherries and cake batter. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar evenly over top. Bake for 45-47 minutes, until risen, browned, and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool completely before serving at room temperature!
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