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Cherry Vanilla Cake with Swiss Buttercream Frosting

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As a kid, Cherry Chip Cake was one of my favorites. I rarely, if ever, use cake mixes-- so I was delighted when I saw this recipe on "Sprinkle Bakes" baking blog. I made a few teensy weensy tweaks to it (like using a cherry concentrate to boost the flavor) and kicking up the almond extract a bit more. The frosting is slightly adapted, using a method from Cook's Illustrated. If you've never made Swiss Buttercream, fear not! I'll walk you through the steps on my food blog. This frosting is not as sweet as a traditional buttercream. It might appear more challenging to make, but it's not. It's silky and really fun to work with a spatula. This was my self-made birthday cake, and I think these would be great as cupcakes, too.

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Ingredients

  • For the Maraschino Cake:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I prefer unbleached flour)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons flour for sprinkling over diced cherries
  • 10 oz bottle maraschino cherries, finely chopped (equals about 8 oz. cherries)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Cherry Concentrate (optional: I buy this, online, from King Arthur Flour)
  • Drop or two of red food coloring, or Americolor Deep Pink food coloring gel *optional (NOTE: I didn't use this, and the cake turned out a pretty pink)
  • 4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
  • Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • TIP: I make a lot of egg custard ice cream, so don't throw away the egg whites after you separate the eggs. I freeze my egg whites. I used thawed egg whites for both recipes, and the results were great!

Details

Adapted from foodiewife-kitchen.blogspot.com

Preparation

Step 1

Preheat oven to 340 degrees.

Grease two 9-inch pans and line with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder .

Combine milk,cherry juice and almond extract, and cherry concentrate (if using) and add alternately to the butter and sugar with the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of flour over the diced cherries and stir until the flour has been completely absorbed. Note: It’s okay if the cherries still have a little juice on them after this.


Stir cherries into the batter. Stir in food coloring if desired (I didn't use it).

Fold stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter-- don't stir, or you will lose the "air" from the egg whites.

Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 22-24 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.


Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:

5 egg whites
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted* butter, cubed, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Set a saucepan filled one-third full of water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a large heatproof bowl**. Set over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch (about 120) and the sugar has dissolved.
**NOTE: I use a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, so I prefer to use the stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water-- one less step!

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (if you followed my tip, you can skip this part) fitted with the whisk attachment.

Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase to medium-high until stiff peaks are formed.

Continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and has cooled (the mixing bowl should feel cool to the touch).

Turn the mixer off and switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle* (*NOTE: I don't switch to the paddle, and so far no problems). Turn the mixer on medium-low and add the butter, a few cubes at a time, beating until well incorporated before the next addition.

Add the vanilla extract, and almond extract (if using).

Divide batter and tint with food coloring, if desired. I kept a little un-tinted frosting out to pipe around the edges of the cake.

Beat until the frosting is thick and completely smooth. Store in an airtight container until ready for use.

NOTE: For the piped edges and decorations, I made a traditional buttercream (made with powdered sugar, butter and heavy cream) because I'm more comfortable piping a buttercream. Swiss buttercream is much silkier and smoother, and that can be a challenge for my intermediate piping skills. Plus, I do like a traditional buttercream as well!

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