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Sunday recipe: Celebrate Washington’s Birthday with cherry upside-down cake

The month of February has a few important events to celebrate. In the United States, one such event is Presidents’ Day, which this year will be observed on Monday, February 15. Presidents’ Day honors both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two influential presidents who were born in February.

Some may recall a legend about George Washington and a cherry tree, as it’s one of the most popular tales tied to the nation’s first president. The original story has a young George receiving a hatchet as a gift when he is six years old. Young George ends up using it to cut into his father’s cherry tree. After discovering the damage, George’s father confronts him. Rather than lie, George admits to his wrongdoing. George’s father commends him for his honesty, indicating that honesty has more value than a cherry tree.

While no one is suggesting to cut down a cherry tree this month in honor of George Washington, the value of this tale and lesson can be celebrated symbolically with this tasty recipe for “Fresh Bing Cherry Upside-Down Cake” courtesy of The California Cherry Board.

This image of cherry upside-down cake licensed through Metro Creative Services.

Fresh Bing Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Serves 8

Fruit Layer:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
½ pound (about 2 cups) California Bing cherries, rinsed, pitted and halved
¼ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (you will need 8-10)

Cake:
½ cup (1 cube) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup whole milk
Whipped cream topping (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. Lightly butter or spray with non-stick spray, a 9-inch standard round cake pan.
  3. For the fruit layer, melt the butter in a wide skillet, add the sugar, and stir until it is melted and begins to bubble. Whisk in the pineapple juice, stirring until smooth. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. In the bottom of the prepared cake pan, arrange the cherries cut side down in a circle, pressing down lightly to adhere. Add a second circle of cherries inside of the first ring. Place pineapple chunks in a circle inside of the cherry rings and another circle of pineapple chunks, if there is room. Place a cherry half (or halves) to fill in the center of the cake.
  5. For the cake, beat the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla until smooth. Mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing until just combined. Pour batter over fruit and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes and invert onto a sheet pan. Drizzle any lingering caramel over top. Cut into slices and serve topped with whipped cream, if desired.