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Cherry Walnut Cake Recipe
My mother made this rich cake every year on George Washington's birthday and that's the only time she made it. It was served at dinner straight from the oven with a lovely cherry syrup/sauce poured over it, but the next day there were always cake squares in our lunch boxes. It was delicious either way.
Both sweet and sour cherries grow in the temperate areas of the south. They are stone fruit and ripen in the summer when they're readily available in both farmer's markets and grocery stores.
My mother made this cake with black walnuts, which are not only expensive and hard to find, but a little strong-tasting for most people. The milder tasting English walnuts work very well in this recipe, and you can also substitute pecans.
George Washington's Birthday Cake
Preheat oven to 350 F.
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, beaten well
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup walnut halves (or pecans)
1 1-lb can pitted tart cherries, drained (save juice for sauce)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
Note: Do not substitute Queen Anne cherries in this recipe.
Cream the butter and sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Add vanilla extract.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
Combine flour mixture with butter/sugar/egg mixture.
Coat the drained cherries with a little bit of flour before folding them into the batter.
Add the nuts to the batter.
Pour the batter into a baking pan that has been prepped with non-stick spray and bake at 350 F until the center is springy and a test toothpick comes out clean. Depending on your oven, this will take 60-70 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack. May be served warm or cold.
While this cake is rich and luscious as is--or with a dollop of whipped cream or a dusting of powdered sugar--it is sublime with hot cherry sauce poured over it.
Reserved cherry juice
2 cups granulated sugar (may use less to taste)
Juice from one lemon (or more)
Add enough water to the reserved cherry juice to make 2 cups of liquid.
Mix the lemon juice, sugar and cherry juice in a 2 quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
Lower the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15-20 minutes.
Pour hot cherry sauce over the cake squares and serve immediately.
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