Light, airy from-scratch maraschino cherry cakes with pink almond and cherry flavored buttercream. Top this cherry almond cake with simple little “flowers” made from almonds and cherries.
Have you ever gotten yourself into a baking mess? And I don’t mean the kind of mess that ruins your kitchen and takes a full hour to bring it back to its immaculate state. I mean the kind of mess where you make too much food for a party.
A baking mess.
My mom and I got ourselves into a little baking mess this past weekend. We had a little get-together with a bunch of parents from our church at our house. We were in charge of desserts, of course.
I started early in the week by mixing up four cookie doughs, scooping them out, and sticking them in the freezer. (Cookie hint: you CAN freeze cookie dough, if you didn’t know. Just scoop the cookie dough out the size you’d like, cram them all in a plastic container or Ziploc baggie, cover, and stick in the freezer! Cool, right?) Anyway, four kinds of cookie dough. I thought that would be enough for our guests. We had at least a dozen and a half of each type. But my mom doesn’t stop there. We made brownies. With peanut butter icing.
And we made a big cake.
Needless to say, we had a lot of desserts.
Some of you might have experienced the same thing. But a good portion of you are probably not the hugely insane bakers that we are! What if I were to tell you that even though you might not love baking quite as much as we do, you can still make this pretty Cherry Almond Cake just as easy?
Well, it’s true.
I have a couple of secrets to share with you today. One is: I do not like making cakes under pressure, and I don’t like trying to make them look smooth and perfect. I am a perfectionist, but sometimes even perfectionists need a break!
The second secret?
I don’t have to make my cakes look perfect. I like when my cakes have frosting that is a bit “messy”. It adds character. This cake is ALL ABOUT how to make things less difficult and more cute. Who doesn’t love a super easy cake that people still “ooooh” and “aaaahh” over?
So here are a few “tricks” to show you how to make your Cherry Almond Cake look spectacular.
First, make the cakes. This is a from-scratch cake that we got from this Mennonite Community Cookbook that we love. My grandma got a copy of this cookbook when she got married. It has such amazing recipes that we had to order one for ourselves! This recipe uses cake flour which makes it light and airy.
Then, bake the cakes. There are a few ways you can successfully make your cakes even-looking. For this cake, we used Wilton Bake Even Strips. I think they’re pretty amazing! The cakes magically turned out nice and flat. If you don’t have some of these, you can also use a knife to cut any dome off the top of the baked cake. The downside? It takes off part of your cake, which means less cake for your masterpiece. But, that’s not so bad, because you can scarf down those scraps while they’re still a little warm. If you don’t want to do these things, have no fear. Just strategically place your cakes on top of each other so that the thicker side goes with a thinner side. It’s that easy! And also, if you’re not happy with the evenness of your cake, you can add more icing to a ‘lacking side’.
You can never go wrong with too much icing!
We used our classic vanilla buttercream but added some maraschino cherry juice and almond extract in place of the vanilla. This icing is my FAVORITE frosting. Which is saying something, considering I am not a huge frosting fan. I have a few frosting recipes that I love, but this one is my absolute favorite. Almond flavored with a little zing of cherry. It’s to die for! Melt-in-your-mouth amazing. This is the best buttercream.
When you ice your cake, make sure you put a decent amount of frosting on. My mom always has to remind me of this, because I try to use a thin layer to cover a big area. The result? Crumbs come off the cake and into your frosting. It’s bound to happen a little, but you avoid a lot of crumbs in your frosting if you just put big globs of frosting on and spread it gently around. You can always take off or add on frosting as needed. So have fun! Cakes are better when you have fun making them and smear a boatload of frosting on top. Another thing: try to get the icing as smooth as possible, but don’t spend forever doing it. If you look closely, you’ll find that the top of our cherry almond cake is not perfectly smooth. That’s because I like the character that a little bit of messy frosting gives.
What else gives a cake texture? The stripes on the side of the cake. They are SUPER easy to make, and you can use an ordinary kitchen tool. Use a knife, fork or spoon to make lines up the side of your frosting, dragging the utensil from the bottom to the top gently, in stripes. There’s also smoother combs you can buy that create textured sides. Don’t press too hard so that it takes off too much frosting, but you want them to show up, too. The sides make it look pretty, and it covers up any mistakes I made when frosting the cherry almond cake.
Trust me, there were PLENTY of mistakes.
And now for the flowers and stars, both of which are super easy. For the stars, I used a decorating bag and Wilton tip number 11 and piped a simple star. Put the tip close to the cake, squeeze, pull up. Easy-peasy.
Don’t you just love, love, LOVE this almond cherry flower idea? I do. It’s very simple. All you do is dry some maraschino cherries on a napkin, place them strategically on the cake, and use almond slices to make flower petals around the cherries. I think it makes the cake look happy and exciting. Trust me, your guests will love this!!! We got the idea from The Perfect Palette. It has some seriously cute cake ideas.
All in all, this is a delicious, beautiful, sweet cherry almond cake for you to share with your friends (Or not…!) and enjoy this Valentine’s Day…or any day for that matter!
Cherry Almond Cake
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1/2 cup milk 2% or higher fat
- 1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
- 16 maraschino cherries finely chopped
- 4 large egg whites
- 4 sticks butter softened
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Few drops of red food coloring optional
- Maraschino cherries drained and dried
- Sliced almonds
- Sift together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the softened butter, milk and cherry juice. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in the chopped cherries.
- Add the egg whites and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
- Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you touch the center of it. Allow the cakes to sit for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pans to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream.
- In a stand mixer bowl, with the mixer on medium speed, whip the butter for 2-3 minutes until it is almost white in color. Add in the powdered sugar, cherry juice, heavy cream and almond extract. Add a drop or two of red food coloring if you'd like the cake to be a little pinker. Beat on low speed again for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the cakes are cool, place one cake on a cake plate. Put a layer of frosting on top of the cake. Then place the second cake on top of the frosting. Using a knife, spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake, covering it completely and getting the frosting as smooth as possible.
- Decorating (optional): Use a knife or spoon and drag it up the cake sides, starting at the bottom and going to the top. This will create nice lines up the sides of the cake.
- Use a coupler to attach Wilton tip #11 to a decorating bag. Fill the bag with buttercream and pipe simple stars around the bottom and top edges of the cake.
- Place the drained and paper towel dried maraschino cherries on the top of the cake in the placement that you'd like them. Place almond slices around the cherry, sticking them into the buttercream so they look like flower petals around the cherry.
- Refrigerate the cake until serving.