Ah, cherry season! In my opinion, this is really the best time of the year. Stone fruits are coming in fast, berries are getting better and better, and if you squint you can juststart to see the end of the long wait before tomato season.
I have a really hard time pacing myself at the farmer’s market and the fruit stands this time of year, which makes today’s recipe kind of perfect if you’re a little like me. This cherry tortina is a simple, small* cake with not too many bells and whistles. The cherries are tossed in a little sugar and arranged on the top of the batter just prior to baking. In the oven, the cherries sink down as the cake rises up, resulting in a lightly crisp top, and a subtle, buttery vehicle to enjoy my favorite fruit of the year.
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 to 1 1/2 c. fresh cherries, pitted
3 Tbsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 6″ cake pan and coat the side with granulated sugar.
Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, then add the milk, extract, and lemon zest.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the butter mixture. Paddle it on low speed until just combined.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but moist peaks form. Add one third of the whites to the batter and fold gently (I use a wide rubber spatula from here on). Add the remaining egg whites and fold until just combined.
Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth out the top. Toss the cherries in the remaining sugar and arrange them in an even layer atop the batter.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.
Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
*This is a great size for a picnic or after a big meal, but if small isn’t what you’re after, this cake can easily be doubled and baked in a 9″ cake pan. Allow 40-45 minutes to bake.