My favorite white cake loaded with sweet cherries and topped with a pretty cherry buttercream! Baked as a fuss-free loaf, this Sweet Cherry Loaf Cake is the perfect dessert for those sweet cherries I know you’ve got sitting in your fridge.
Sweet Cherry Loaf Cake
If you’ve been stocking up on those sweet summer cherries (who hasn’t?!) then I know you’re here because you mean business. I can’t be the only one gleefully going for the biggest bag every time I’m at the grocery store. And this is on top of the giant bag of frozen cherries my husband just has to buy every week at Costco. Yeah, we kinda love cherries over here. So naturally, we want to bake with our ripe, fresh cherries before they’re out of season! I took my favorite cake recipe, added quartered cherries and baked it up in an easy breezy loaf pan (because sometimes I just can’t be bothered with piping cupcakes or assembling a layer cake). And then I made a simple American buttercream with a few blended cherries for that pretty pink color.
To keep your cherries from sinking to the bottom of your loaf cake, I recommend patting them dry…a lot. After you wash them and then also after they’re quartered. If your cherries are extra ripe, they will be extra juicy and, honestly, we don’t need all of that juice! Once you’ve pitted and cut each cherry into four pieces, you’ll pat them dry and then toss them in a bit of flour. Halved cherries are more likely to sink, so we like to cut them smaller. The flour helps the cherries stay suspended in the batter while the cake cooks.
Ingredients You’ll Need + Possible Substitutions
- Sweet cherries make this cake! I only recommend using fresh, sweet cherries for this recipe. I think frozen cherries will add too much liquid, so I don’t recommend them.
- All-purpose flour is my go-to baking flour. I like to use an unbleached variety, but any AP flour will work. If you’re looking for a “healthier” option, I recommend whole wheat pastry flour or a mix of 50% all-purpose flour + 50% white whole wheat flour.
- Leavening agents give the cake height. I like to use both baking powder and baking soda in this recipe; I don’t recommend substituting either.
- Plant-based butter adds flavor and helps give this cake that fluffy texture we all love. It’s also used in the frosting to create a classic buttercream. Feel free to use regular butter if you’re not dairy-free.
- Sugar adds sweetness to the cake (duh). I like to use an unrefined cane sugar (it’s what I always bake with), but a regular white granulated sugar will work perfectly well!
- Eggs bind the ingredients and add some fluffiness. I haven’t tried this recipe with any egg alternatives.
- Vanilla extract adds flavor to both the cake and frosting. Feel free to play with whatever extracts you like. You could add a bit of almond extract, orange extract, or even cherry extract to the cake.
- Plant-based milk adds moisture to the cake. I like to use oat milk or almond milk, but you can use any plant-based milk or cow’s milk.
- Vegetable shortening is used to stiffen the frosting – I find plant-based butters to have less structure. You can use more butter in its place, totally omitting the shortening, but you may need a tad more powdered sugar in your frosting.
- Powdered sugar makes up the frosting. I don’t recommend any sugar alternatives for this classic American buttercream.
More Cake Recipes
- 1 1/2 cups (250g) whole fresh cherries (~28 cherries)
- 1 3/4 cup (228g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (112g) plant-based butter, softened (see Note 1)
- 2/3 cup (159g) unrefined sugar (or 2/3 cup/134g white granulated sugar)
- 2 large eggs, room temp
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plant-based milk
- 1/4 cup (56g) plant-based butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (96g) vegetable shortening (see Note 2)
- 1 Tbsp crushed/blended cherries (~3 cherries)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (240g) powdered sugar
- Bring your eggs to room temperature by placing them in a glass of warm water for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a 9x5" loaf pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom + two long sides of the pan with a strip of parchment paper. Crease the excess paper over the edges of the pan and trim with scissors.
- Prepare the cherries by washing, drying, pitting, and quartering them. Pat the quartered cherries dry with a paper towel to remove any excess liquid. Set cherries aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and then 1/2 of the milk. Repeat and then beat in the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth.
- Toss the quartered cherries in a tablespoon of flour. Gently mix the cherries into the batter. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with a few crumbs.
- Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use the parchment paper to pull the hot loaf up and out of the pan. Allow the loaf to cool on a cooling rack.
- Once the cake is completely cool (not at all warm to the touch), you can make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and shortening. Beat in the blended cherries (see Note 2) and vanilla extract. Finally, beat in the powdered sugar on low speed. If your frosting is too thick, add your favorite milk 1 tsp at a time. If it's too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.
- Frost the cake using your favorite method (I opted for a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1A tip). Top with whole cherries, sprinkles, etc. Slice and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Butter must be soft for both the cake and frosting. If using a stick "butter", you'll need to allow the butter to soften at room temperature prior to using. If using a tub "butter", you'll want to use it straight from the refrigerator as it is already very soft.
- I used a mini food processor to blend my cherries - yes, I only needed three! Feel free to finely chop or smash your cherries, being sure you get that juice into the frosting!