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Sour Cherry Streusel Cake

yield: 1 9 x 13-inch cake


For the Streusel

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick // 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon

For the Sour Cherry Topping

  • 24 ounces fresh sour cherries, pitted and stemmed, divided into two 12-ounce portions
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 fluid ounces) water, divided into 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoon portions
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks // 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6.20 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups (11.65 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup 2 ounces crème fraîche


For the Streusel

  • In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Work together with your fingertips until the mixture is well combined and crumbly, with both lima bean- and pea-sized clumps. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Sour Cherry Topping

  • Combine 12 ounces sour cherries with 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cherries are very tender, about 5 minutes, before crushing with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Add the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan; the juice will almost immediately thicken and gel. Remove the pot from heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Fold the remaining 12 ounces sour cherries back into the hot, thickened mixture and set aside on a wire rack to cool.

For the Sour Cherry Streusel Cake

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by lining with parchment paper, letting the sides hang over the edges to function as a sling after baking. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup unsalted butter and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume. Reduce the mixer speed to its slowest setting and add 3 large eggs, one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous egg has been fully incorporated. Add 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and once incorporated, stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Turn the mixer speed back to its slowest setting and add the dry ingredients all at once; be careful not to overmix! Continue mixing on the slowest setting, and stop when the dry ingredients have just about disappeared into the batter. Add 1/4 cup crème fraîche and continue mixing just until incorporated.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan, using an offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly across the pan. Distribute the cherries and thickened juice evenly all over the cake batter. Remove the bowl of streusel from the refrigerator and distribute the streusel evenly over the cherries, breaking up any large clumps with your hands.
  • Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the streusel is light golden and a cake skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with few crumbs. Once the cake is done, transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly — the cake can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. Use the parchment paper overhang to remove the cake from the pan and serve as desired. The cake is best on the day its made; the streusel tends to get soggy the longer it sits.