Cherry Layer Cake

February 13, 2012

cherry cake

Boy, did I have quite the adventure with this cake yesterday! Not only was it a great treat with Valentine’s Day Tuesday, but I was able to have a fun time preparing it with some wonderful new friends : D

Jeez, where to begin with the saga that is this cake? I suppose with the oven. This German oven has it out for me when it comes to layer cakes. Seriously. It loves cookies, bars, and cupcakes. But if you stick a layer cake in there, you better believe it’s coming out underdone. The only other layer cake I’ve made in this oven was my Daughter’s first Birthday cake back in September. It baked up so horribly that I hadn’t bothered making another one until yesterday. I had assumed that my cake from September came out underdone simply because I had just moved into my new house and wasn’t used to the oven. It had been months without any disasters so I thought it was safe to try again. WRONG. The oven has a vendetta for layer cakes. Actually, when I think about it logically it is probably because my oven is so small. Since it is tiny and almost entirely unventilated, it is prone to over-browning things. My theory is that it bakes the top of the cake way before it bakes the center. It appears to be done because of the browning and the toothpick comes out clean for reasons of unknown origin. But regardless, just like my last layer cake, this cake started to cave in the center a few short minutes out of the oven. When I removed it from the pan it was incredibly obvious that the cake was still gooey inside. My baking savvy friend that was helping me suggested that we flip the cake upside down- leaving the parchment on the bottom of the pan, but baking the bottom as the top now to prevent over-baking the former top. Does that make sense? Well, it worked very well! I was shocked, I didn’t think you could throw a cake back in the oven like that. Apparently you can. And with fairly good results too- so, thank you! I love learning new things in the kitchen : ) We baked it an additional 13 minutes or so. It was. of course, a little bit crusty around the edges from being double baked, but when we leveled it, most of that was cut off anyways.

cherry layer cake

Now if I had baked this long enough and in a normal oven I would have been much more pleased with the recipe obviously. But regardless, all problems had with this cake were baker-error, not recipe-error. The batter came out quite beautiful actually. I was surprised about that too because it was so thick before folding in the egg whites that I had to mix it for a while to get it homogenous. The cake didn’t bake up tough in the least though- the wonder’s of cake flour, I swear. 

Instead of using the 7-minute frosting that was given in this recipe, I went with a cherry cream cheese frosting. I find that 7-minute frostings can be very wet and don’t hold up well. Ha the jokes on me because my cherry cream cheese frosting came out so wet that my top layer was practically sliding off the bottom. Again- my error. My cream cheese and butter had been out so long that they were way beyond “room temperature”. They were borderline melted… Plus! I neglected to check if I had confectionary sugar before buying the ingredients for this recipe. Guess what? I barely had enough. Although I usually never use the full amount called for in a recipe anyways (especially with buttercream), I find that it always makes the frosting too sweet. But in cases like this, it would have been nice to have to thicken it and make it more stable. I probably used about 4 cups when it called for 6. It still worked for the most part and it was delicious, so I’m not going to complain too much.

Alright, enough of that. I think it’s about time I actually shared with you the outcome of the cake as far as taste. It was yummy! Especially if you like cherry and almond extract. This cake is very good. And if you take your time and execute it properly, there is no reason it shouldn’t come out tasting even better than mine did. Even with all the over-baking and extensive folding of the batter, the interior texture of the cake was still nice and soft and fluffy. I think that’s saying something.

cherry layer cake

I used a 10 oz jar of salad Maraschino cherries (without stems) and I ended up with a handful of leftover cherries to use for decorating, as well as almost exactly 1/2 cup of juice. It worked out perfectly. Also, I baked my cakes in two 8″ round pans. The recipe asks for 9″- if you use 8″ like I did, you will want to make the cake about 5 minutes or so longer.

* This remains one of my favorite layer cakes baked of all time. I love almond extract though. This Caramel Layer Cake is up there too.*

3.5 from 13 reviews
Cherry Layer Cake with Cherry Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves: 12
  • For the Cake:
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 16 maraschino cherries, cut into eighths
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature, stiffly beaten
  • For the Frosting:
  • 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 6 cups confectionary sugar
  1. For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round layer cake pans (line bottoms with parchment, if desired) and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about five minutes.
  4. Measure out the milk, almond extract, and cherry juice into one liquid measuring cup together. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, alternately add the wet and dry to the creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition. Fold in the cherries.
  5. Stiffly beat egg whites in a separate bowl. Fold in ⅓ of egg whites to batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites until mixture is well combined.
  6. Divide the batter between pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until springy to touch.
  7. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Using a thin knife, loosen carefully around edges and turn out onto the racks. Cool to room temperature.
  8. For the Frosting: Cream together the butter and cream cheese with half the confectionary sugar. Add the cherry juice. Mix in enough of the remaining confectionary sugar to get the taste and consistency desired.
If using two 8" round cake pans, bake an additional 5-7 minutes.


adapted from Food for a Hungry Soul


{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Bonnie January 28, 2013 at 12:53 am



diann April 16, 2014 at 5:26 pm

can this be done in a 9×13 pan?


Kathy December 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

I’m thinking about making this & putting cherry pie filling between the layers & on top of cake!


Alicia December 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I made this last week and the taste was great (especially that icing, WOW!), but the cake came out really, really dry. Any suggestions on what happened or how to prevent the next time I make it?



lmachell January 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Not sure, it could be a number of things- over baking or possibly over stirring? Mis measuring ingredients?


Margaret January 22, 2016 at 5:25 am

I baked this cake for my son’s 19th Birthday today….he requested a Cherry Cake, but unfortunately it came out EXTREMELY dry. I followed the recipe exactly, especially because of how special of the day! The frosting was delicious!


Karen April 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm

Sounds like too much flour & baking powder. Cut back a 1/4 cup of flour. And 1/2tsp baking powder. Add a little more shortening. Give it a try.


Kathy July 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Maybe try putting in cherry pudding? Just a bit.


Erin February 12, 2015 at 2:32 am

If I make this with black cherries that were frozen. Will the cake still look pink?


Erin February 15, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I made this. It was way to dry for me as well. I added the egg yolks seeing that it was incredibly dry before I had folded in the egg whites. Still looked to dry. So I added another 1/4 cup of milk. The cake came out kinda between a biscuit and cake consistency. I’m going to cross reference this with my German chocolate recipe to see ratio between dry and wet to figure out adjustments. I believe this ratio is off. I know some of my problem is my new measuring cups are a little generous, so I found out today. But I used the same measuring set for the juice and milk. So the ratio should have been consistent other than the ingredients measured with spoons. That shouldn’t be that significant. I also used that same set for the measuring of the butter and vegetable shortening. My husband noticed the ratio of dry to liquid is similar to his biscuit recipe.


Caroline February 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm

I made this as cupcakes. They were delicious! I wouldn’t say they were dry, more like dense. I thought maybe I cooked them too long or over stirred so I made them again. I got the same outcome. Despite the texture of the cake they are very good especially the frosting. Everyone loved them. The best part is they are not sugary sweet.


tl February 22, 2015 at 1:08 am

I made this cake last pm and it was awful. Tasted like flour. I should have known with 3 cups of flour. It looked pretty but tasted awful


Wendy February 23, 2015 at 4:31 pm

It was a beautiful cake. If you’re going to get fancy and pipe the icing you will need two batches. Mine was not dry or dense at all. Maybe sifting your flour before measuring? Otherwise you will have more flour if it’s unsifted. And make sure to cream the butter and sugar for the full time.


Paula Kreft April 3, 2015 at 7:34 pm

There is a significant difference between a recipe that calls for 3 c. sifted flour and one that says 3 c. flour, sifted.

This recipe calls for 3 c. of sifted cake flour. I do not spend the extra for specialty flours. Carefully spoon 3 c. of regular flour into your measuring cup and scrape off with a knife to level. Remove 6T. of that and replace it with 6T. of cornstarch. Sift it together onto a piece of waxed paper and you now have sifted cake flour. Carefully measure out 3 cups into your dry ingredient bowl, being careful not to pack it down. You should have quite it bit left over from your original 3 c. of flour.

The recipe does not call for egg yolks so do not add them! If you follow the directions and measure correctly, you will have a wonderful, light, fluffy cake and the frosting is to die for.


Penny DeLuca April 6, 2015 at 10:21 am

I baked this cake yesterday for my daughter’s birthday and it was delicious and everyone loved it. I followed the recipe as is and it turned out wonderful and beautiful. The cake texture was a little bit of a mix between a moist cake and angel food. The texture was just a little different from most cakes, but it was not dry at all and was enjoyed by all!


Susie Carter June 3, 2015 at 12:29 am

I used a 10 oz box of white cake mix with pudding in the mix. Prepared as on the box but instead of adding 1 1/4 c water I added 1 c water and 1/4 c marichino cherry juice, 1/4 t almond extract, 1/2 t vanilla, 1/3 c vegetable oil, 3 egg whites (i didn’t take them to room teperature or beat until stiff) and the cut up cherries. Made 24 cup cakes. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Omg! Perfection! Used this frosting recipe and wallah! Moist, light consistency, moist! You won’t have any problems with this!


margaret lachner March 11, 2016 at 6:56 pm

After reading all the negative comments, I think I am going to use your tweaks in my recipe. Thank you!…… maggie


Cleeo2 August 23, 2016 at 1:03 pm

I will try this way too! Easier for me as I don’t have a stand mixer and also due to the reviews. I have never had a dry box cake.


D. April 27, 2017 at 5:27 pm

Where did Sue Carter find a 10 ounce box of cake mix. (Brand?) Should it be 18?


Annette June 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

I wanted to make two comments. As for ‘over browning’. Your oven needs to be calibrated so that the heat is what the dial says. In CA the gas company provides this service free of charge. For electric ovens there are ways to do it yourself or you have to call a technician.
As for those who said their cake was dry. This most likely is a measuring issue. Once you sift the cake flour you must GENTLY spoon into measuring cup and do not tap, shake or pat down otherwise you are adding more flour than necessary. I’ve seen people tap, pack and shake the flour down until they get up to 1/3 cup more per cup squashed into the measuring cup. In a recipe that calls for 2 cups that could be 2/3 cup more than you realize. Happy Baking!


Susie Carter June 5, 2015 at 11:51 pm

Correction to the cake mix recipe on June 3, 2015. It’s an 18.75 oz box of white cake mix with pudding in the mix.


Jan October 11, 2015 at 11:23 pm

I was wondering if anyone knows the WEIGHT of 3 cups sifted cake flour? I have a kitchen scale and think this might help solve the problem of how much flour to actually put into the cake.

Thanks. 🙂


Debbie February 4, 2018 at 9:29 pm

Since 1 cup equals 8 ounces, I would have to assume that 3 cups would weigh 24 ounces or 1 1/2 pounds.


Anita Fasce January 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

I just wanted to know if you use the egg yolks or what do you do with them because you


Diana February 4, 2016 at 3:20 am



Stacy February 27, 2016 at 10:23 pm

So YUMMY!! We will make this again.


Cindy June 23, 2016 at 5:56 am

Oh.This cake brings back,so many memories. My Mom use to make this for us.Every year for our birthdays. She would decorated.She would put cherries all on top.


Betty June 26, 2016 at 3:54 am

I made this into adorable cupcakes. I tweeked the recipe by using one full stick if butter, and replaced the vegetable shortening with 3 ounces of melted coconut oil. I also added a little more cherry juice. Turned out perfect. Texture was moist but light and bouncy. They formed beautiful domed tops and perfectly golden edges. I honestly could not have asked for a better turn out.

*If you do chose to do cupcakes, same temperature, 10 minutes less time. 24 cupcakes!


GS July 14, 2016 at 12:14 am

I never leave comments but after making this and THEN reading the comments… I just HAVE to! This was SO horrible! I let my daughter pick the cake & recipe she wanted for her 14th birthday… I should’t have. The cake has no flavor and was some where between a really dense angle food cake and a sponge cake… not the light and fluffy cake you are accustomed to. The icing was so runny it was spilling over everywhere… even after trying to refrigerate it for almost an hour. Besides, it was soooooooo sweet! Like TOO sweet. Overly sweet, runny icing + flavorless, dense “cake”= a HUGE waste of ingredients and even my middle daughter who we call “Mikey” because she eats everything wouldn’t finish her slice.

PS- I have been cooking for years, followed the recipe to a T and have never made something this awful. So disappointing… should have read the comments before making, lesson learned!


Debi July 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm

I made this cake for my friend’s birthday, and it was delicious! I added a little almond flavoring to the icing as well, and it turned out great. It’s definitely a keeper ! Thank you for sharing!


Kate Petry February 10, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I made these into cupcakes and they were the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever had. Light and fluffy, very cherry! If yours didn’t turn out fabulous, it was definitely operator error not the recipe. I did a whipped cream cream cheese frosting which was perfect.


Lisa F. November 26, 2017 at 4:10 am

Hi I’m glad to hear to know that your cupcakes came out delicious. If you don’t mind sharing how is your whipped cream cheese frosting made? Thank you.


Kate Petry December 21, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Hi Lisa,

Sorry for the late response, I only noticed your comment when I came back for the recipe (it’s Christmas dessert this year!). I used the recipe below (scale as needed of course):

8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks; set aside.
Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth.
Scoop about a 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and fold gently until combined.
Then add the remaining whipped cream to the mix, folding gently until combined.

It isn’t a stiff frosting, but I’m still able to pipe roses, swirls, etc and it holds.


Caley April 11, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Hi your cake recipe is amazing. But I was just wondering how it would turn out with no eggs. Because I am a gluten free baker.


Ade May 8, 2017 at 9:10 am

Dry and heavy cake due to poor instructions on how to make this cake successful as in the picture. Fortunately I rescued the cake from dehydration by using my own knowledge and gut instincts. Reading the bad comments here confirmed my fears and managed to save the cake just in the nick of time. If you end up with a really dry, sticky and heavy batter add an additional 1/4 of a cup of milk; plus another 1/4 of a cup of melted shortening, plus another 1/4 of cherry juice, plus two more teaspoons of baking powder, plus more cherries to your liking and very important: add another 6 egg whites previously beaten to a stiff point in texture; gently fold all of this into your existing overly dry batter.


Peggy May 15, 2017 at 1:16 am

I made this cake today. I was not impressed. The cake it heavy, dry and the icing is way to sweet. I even cut back on the cooking time.


Julie May 30, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Hello….based on comments I will hold off on making this beautiful cake. The consistent dry results….or even the opposite happens when a number of different bakers all measure flour in differing ways. The only way to resolve this is for the author to provide the weight of the flour, sugar, etc, next time she makes this cake. Then amend the recipe. I bet that would solve the issue with unhappy results and wasted ingredients. Thank you!


Autumn June 2, 2017 at 11:26 pm

This is AWFUL!! I read all the reviews and with everyone saying the cake recipe was bad I decided to use a box cake and just add the cherries and almond extract to that. Well the cake came out good, however, the frosting was terrible. It taste like cream cheese and powdered sugar. There is not much cherry flavor. Save your time and ingredients and find another recipe!


Vickie Dotey July 1, 2017 at 11:01 pm

I was wondering if this cake can be made with non-cake flour and Gluten-free ??????


Lea Ashley August 5, 2017 at 4:45 am

you have to go to your local health food store and buy appropriate flours to get it to work


Peter July 8, 2017 at 7:48 am

Hey there… my daughter showed this to me and it looks *lovely* but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to find the Maraschino cherry juice locally (Cape Town, South Africa). Is this literally cherry juice or the “juice” that surrounds maraschino cherries when you purchase them in the store? Thanks!


Barbara Johnson July 26, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Peter, the red juice that maraschino cherries are bottled in. You can also buy the juice only (at least here in the States). It’s known as grenadine syrup.


Lea Ashley August 5, 2017 at 4:43 am

It is dry because the called for 1/3 c. butter and 1/3 oil c. is not enough. The butter needs to be altered to at least 1/2 cup or one stick or even two sticks of butter in balance with 3 cups of flour. That is why its dry


Sandra October 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Could you please put weights in english as well as American Thank you.


Michele October 26, 2017 at 4:33 am

Followed directions to a “T” and the cake turned out very dry. The taste is great and if you have a big glass of milk you will do okay! The icing is superb!


JoyZ November 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Absolutely delicious. My whole family loved it!!!!


Gail December 23, 2017 at 9:49 am

Can I substitute cherry puree for maraschino cherry juice?


Melissa January 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm

I made this cake for my moms birthday. This cake was wonderful!! I followed the recipe exactly how it was written. I will definitely make it again. I cannot believe how hostile some people get over a recipe!


Tricia Finnegan January 31, 2018 at 11:21 pm

Alicia, I’m not a pro or a chef by any means, but I have picked up some tips along the way. My mother taught me a lot in the kitchen growing up, and I picked up a lot on my own. Anyway… I always use pudding in my cake mixes even if there is already pudding in the mix. I use a small box and it helps the cake stay moist. This cake is made from scratch so you might have to figure out how much pudding to use ~ a big box or small box and what flavor of pudding. I have no idea if there is any Cherry pudding or not. If not, I would use a vanilla pudding. This is just my personal opinion. I hope that I was able to help you out a little bit.
Raleigh, NC


Lisa February 25, 2018 at 4:54 am

Does this cake need refrigerated due to the cream cheese icing? I made this cake this evening and hopefully it will taste good tomorrow when we try it. I’m kinda of nervous after reading all the negative comments.


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