This cherry chip cake is made with dried cherries and has a trio of chocolate flavors — semisweet and white chocolate chips in the cake layers, as well as a homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. It’s a cake for cherry lovers and chocolate lovers alike. If you happen to love both, then this cherry chip cake is everything you’re looking for!
Not Really a Cake Boss, Per Se
I used to make a lot of cakes. It was such a common activity that I even had a couple of pretty covered cake plates to store/display cake creations in my kitchen. When my boys were little, I switched to making cupcakes because those were the perfect “single serving dessert” to satisfy their sweet tooths after dinner (and cupcakes freeze beautifully, so no more stale cakes that had to be thrown away).
Lately, cake-making has been a rarity (I think I’ve made three in the past year), so this cherry chip cake feels long overdue!
I got the idea to use three different flavors of chocolate from the cherry turnovers I made a while ago. I made chocolate drizzles in white, milk, and semisweet chocolates and I honestly couldn’t tell you which one ended up being my favorite. Cherry goes well with all of them, so I decided I’d put all three chocolate flavors into one cake.
At first I thought I’d just put three different kinds of chocolate chips in the batter. But then I remembered I needed a frosting flavor. After some deliberation, I chose to put semisweet and white chocolate chips in the cake batter and I used cocoa powder to make a chocolate buttercream frosting (sort of milk chocolate-y tasting).
I only use all-purpose flour in my baking. I actually forget there are other kinds of flour out there (self-rising flour and flour that’s really good for making pasta, for instance). I don’t believe I’ve ever bought cake flour. It has never crossed my mind to do so.
But while I was doing cake research I kept seeing things about cake flour in various recipes. Fearing I was up that creek with no paddle, I Googled whether or not I really need cake flour for a cake recipe. While you can get by with all-purpose flour, the consensus is that cakes made with cake flour turn out better I came across this article about why cake flour is used and how to make a substitute if you don’t have any.
I am a huge fan of food substitutes/cheats because I often find myself out of certain ingredients ONLY when I’m about to get started on a recipe. Currently, the nearest grocery store is 25 miles down the interstate from where I am. So I find myself needing quite a few substitutions.
In response to my query about cake flour, it turns out you can remove a certain amount of all-purpose flour from your recipe and replace it with cornstarch to create cake flour. The “formula” is for every cup of all purpose flour in your recipe, remove 2 tablespoons of the flour, add back in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and mix well.
Just like that — substitute cake flour!
I decided to make my own cake flour to use for the cherry chip cake batter.
I have a very large bag of dried cherries. They need to be used up. They do not need pitting and they won’t splatter and stain my clothing. Dried cherries also have a lot of flavor and I liked the texture when I used them in my cherry muffins recipe.
All these factors made dried cherries the obvious choice to use for this cherry chip cake.
I Went Nut-Free This Time
I’ve been putting nuts in nearly every baked good I’ve made lately. I thought it was getting to be overkill, so I chose to forgo the nuts this time.
But if I HAD used nuts in this cherry chip cake, I would have used crushed almonds and I would have mixed them into the frosting. I really enjoyed the nuts in the frosting I used on my pumpkin bars because it put the crunch texture more “in front” than when I add nuts to the batters and doughs of my baked recipes.
Cherry Chip Cake, Step By Step
The first thing I did was cut the dried cherries down into smaller pieces because I dislike how large they are. Having large pieces of dried fruit can create an “unbalanced” cake where the add-ins are unevenly distributed and there may be slices without any cherries and other slices with more than a fair share of cherries.
By cutting the cherries up smaller, the fruit is distributed more evenly throughout the cherry chip cake layers. Yes, it takes some time — about 10-15 minutes to cut up enough cherries to make 1 cup — but sometimes I like to slow down and just “be in the moment” when I’m baking. I enjoyed a couple Rising Appalachia songs and congratulated myself when the cherries were done.
Then I began making my cherry chip cake batter by creaming together the butter and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter and sugar are combined, then run on medium speed until well creamed.
I did add the vanilla at this time to help the butter and sugar blend because the butter wasn’t quite as soft as it should have been.
Then I added the eggs, one at a time, mixing well before adding the next one.
After the eggs are added is when the vanilla should be added and mixed into the batter.
Now for the dry ingredients. In a small mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour (minus the amount to account for the cornstarch), the cornstarch, and baking soda. You can sift them together or just use a whisk to break up any lumps.
Once the dry ingredients are mixed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches. Mix on low speed to incorporate the dry ingredients and then mix on medium for 30-60 seconds before adding the next batch.
The batter will be quite thick by now, but help is on the way because now it’s time to add the milk.
The next photo shows all the milk poured onto the batter, waiting to be mixed in. Don’t do this. I don’t know why I thought it all had to be in there for the photo and I regretted it as soon as I turned on the mixer.
Instead, here’s what you should do. Pour in the milk a little at a time, mixing on low speed until all the milk has been added. If you do it this way, I guarantee you’ll have way fewer splashes all over your kitchen (and yourself) than I did.
You’ll see that after adding the milk, the batter is much smoother and not nearly as thick (although it is thicker than most cake batters I’ve made).
Add the cherries, semisweet chocolate, and the white chocolate chips. Mix them in using a spatula or a mixing spoon.
Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans. Spray the insides well and then coat with flour.
Use a spatula to spread the cake batter evenly between the two pans. Like I said, this cake batter is a little thicker than most other cake recipes. But look how amazing that batter is with those chips!
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. At 30 minutes, test with a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean, the cake layers are done.
Remove the layers from the cake pans and cool on wire racks.
While the cake is cooking, make the frosting.
First, use an electric mixer to cream the butter well in a medium-sized bowl; first on low speed, then on medium.
Sift in a cup of powdered sugar at a time, mixing it in well before adding the next cup.
This is when I remembered how much I hate working with powdered sugar. It gets EVERYWHERE, especially when it’s sifted. Somehow I’d forgotten how messy and annoying it is to make homemade frosting.
After the first cup, I figured out a trick to adding the sugar. Once I sifted the cup into the bowl, I used a spatula to “smoosh” the sugar into the butter. I just wanted to make sure the sugar wasn’t going to fly everywhere when I turned the mixer back on. I mixed on low until I was confident the sugar was incorporated and then I turned the mixer up to medium for about a minute or so.
By the fourth cup, it was a little hard to get the sugar smooshed into the butter, but it was worth the effort so that I didn’t have a cloud of powdered sugar erupt from the mixing bowl when the mixer’s beaters got going.
Add the cocoa powder in the same manner. Mix very well on medium speed to blend it into the frosting.
Finally, add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of milk and mix well on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until the frosting looks like this.
I did sample the frosting a few times and that’s when I remembered WHY I go to the trouble of making homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. Because it’s just so darn good.
Frosting the Cake
When I frost a cake, no one’s going to mistake it for one that came from a bakery. I’ve never really gotten into the cake decorating madness that’s all over the internet. It seems like the recent trend is smooth-frosted cakes, maybe with some structured texture to them (created with forks, cake combs, or icing tips), but I just can’t get on board with that.
I like the “homestyle” frosting look — the one that says “This is a homemade cake and that’s homemade frosting I’ve slathered on it.” Cakes like my grandmother used to make, in other words.
I used that blue spatula from the photo to layer the frosting on and then I took a plastic spoon to create the “swoops” all over it. Nothing fancy, really. I just wanted it to look like something that came from my grandmother’s kitchen and I feel like I checked that box.
Once the cake is frosted, it’s time to cut and serve. Boy, is it ever time.
(If you’re like me and believe cake to be its own food group, feel free to enjoy a slice of this for breakfast — just as I did.)
Storing and Freezing Cherry Chip Cake
The more research I do on the proper storing and freezing of different foods, the more I learn. Mostly how I’ve been doing it wrong.
It turns out that when you cut your cake makes a difference in how long it will stay fresh. There are also some frostings that work better for cakes you plan to freeze (spoiler alert — buttercream is one of them!).
After reading these articles, I realized I was better off just providing the links to them since I haven’t been practicing proper cake storage all these years! I figure we can learn together.
- For the Cake:
- 2 sticks of butter, softened
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups, minus 6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 3 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup dried cherries, cut or chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- For the Frosting
- 2 ½ sticks of butter, softened
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
To Make the Cake
- Cut or chop the dried cherries into pieces smaller than raisin size. Cut or chop enough to make one cup.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl on low speed, then on medium until well mixed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, completely mixing in on low speed before adding the next one.
- Add the vanilla and mix on low speed.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder until well blended.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in small batches. Mix well before adding the next batch.
- Slowly add the milk while mixing on low speed. Once all the milk is added, increase the speed to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes.
- Use a spatula to mix in the dried cherries, semisweet, and white chocolate chips.
- Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
- Use the spatula to spread the batter evenly between the two pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 30 minutes. When the toothpick comes out clean, the cake layers are done.
- Remove the layers from the pans and cool on wire racks.
To Make the Frosting
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter well.
- Sift a cup of powdered sugar into the bowl.
- Blend the sugar in using a spatula and then use an electric mixer on low speed to mix well.
- Repeat for the other 3 cups of powdered sugar.
- Sift in the cocoa powder, blend in with the spatula, and then mix well on low speed with the electric mixer.
- Add the milk and vanilla, mixing on low speed, and then mix the frosting on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.
- Spread the frosting onto the cake layers and decorate as you wish.