Lemon-Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Lemon-Sour Cherry Coffee Cake


I must write. I am somewhere between feeling buzzed, happy, fulfilled, and pissed. Bloody Mary and homemade sausage breakfast sandwich for breakfast and nursing a Moscow Mule as I prepare my Easter ham and more.

I am just so irritated.

Do you ever go into cooking or baking with an extreme amount of confidence only to bleep it up?  Everything goes smooth. The creaming of the butter and sugar, the sifting of the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, the adding of the eggs, the folding at the end, the elegance with which the batter slowly drops into the Bundt pan and the confidence when you place it gently into the oven and walk away….

The buzzer rings. You break out the toothpick and the once thick and goopy batter is now golden brown and the toothpick comes out clean. Bam. Right on schedule. You think that this will be another flawless baking experience.

You let it cool for the suggested 20 minutes. You gently rub a butter knife along the edges hoping it will separate away from the pan (after all you greased it proper…right?). You think it is releasing, but not quite. Let it cool longer you think. Wait another 10 minutes. Should be ready now. You head back when the basketball game you are watching (Zags Sweet 16) is at commercial break. You invert the pan, tap on the top, hoping to coerce the cake out of its home of the past hour and a half. Nothing. No movement.  Start to get a little tense and a little irritation starting to creep in. Why isn’t this working you wonder.  You take the knife and go a little deeper into the sides of the pan. You know you shouldn’t have to but you do it anyway. It just isn’t working. The beautiful and super moist and delicious coffee cake you are planning on bringing the Easter brunch with all of those kids (and their parents) will certainly wow them all. I mean, it’s a faithful and consistent crowd pleaser. Sophisticated yet simple. Elegant yet a little rustic. A perfect way to keep up with the groups expectations of “what did you bring?”

It still doesn’t move. You tap the top a little more, slide the knife deeper still and finally, after inverting it again, give it a good wiggle, and then shake. Here it comes…it is working!  The cake dislodges and rather aggressively lands on the cutting board with little billows of steam escaping the sides.  You life up the pan hoping to see that familiar Bundt-cake look of golden brown ridges and a delicious, soul-penetrating depth to the coffee cake that will ruin all others. Where others bring blue-can-wrapped cinnamon rolls, semi-homemade quiche, or store-bought anything, you will be the hero. You will be the one that simply, yet elegantly delivers the winner to the bunch party. You have just reinforced everyone’s belief that you are indeed supreme. That you are not just relegated to the grill, or the stove, but you, unlike others, can both cook AND bake! You are the one.

As you slowly pull away the Bundt cake pan, expecting to be filled with a mix of glee and simple satisfaction, you see that only 3/4 or so of the cake actually come out. Huge gashes are missing.  Familiar smell but clearly something is wrong. You flip over the pan to see that the remaining 1/4 is still stuck in various sections of the pan!  WTH? You mutter (to yourself of course) a curse word or two.  The anticipation and excitement quickly turns into anger, frustration and good old fashioned irritation. Damn.  This sucks.  So confident and so convinced you had the winner only to find out it looks like my 4 year old son made it (cute for him, super lame for me).  Sure it tastes fine and familiar. Heck it is actually still quite delicious but all I can think of is how the blankety blank did this happen?  I retrace my steps and remember that yes, I sprayed the pan. Upon further review, however, I had written oil the pan, not spray. HUGE difference.  A twinge of calmness comes in because I feel I have isolated the problem. That lasted 1 second.  Now I am so irritated that I periodically think about it when I go to bed (Friday), when I deliver a trimmed down version to the brunch (Saturday), Saturday night while wife and I rent a movie (Big Short – good movie btw), and then in the morning as the plate of crumbs and pieces stare at me AGAIN.

Do you ever go through this? Do you ever fail at a recipe only to be tormented by it for the next several days thinking, dreaming, plotting, planning, to make it again just for the principle?  I know I can make this right. Heck, if I make it and no one wants to eat it at home, I certainly can bring it to work right? I mean those animals converge on everything that shows up in the break room.  That would be ok right? I can do something for my co-workers but in reality…I mean…you know what is really going on here…I simply need to make this again so I can move on.  So I can cook and bake again with abandon. The torment, the bad dreams, and the anger will subside.

I must bake again.

Oh, here is what I was originally going to say about this recipe:

I first heard about this recipe watching whatever-show-Paula-Deen’s-Boys had for a brief period on Food Network. When they were in Seattle, they stopped by Macrina Bakery and baked this recipe (which I adapted) with Leslie Mackey, owner/baker of this great Seattle establishment.  WARNING: this ain’t yo momma’s coffee cake (at least not my momma’s). Perfect in a Bundt pan but also fun to bake as mini loaves to share with your friends or freeze for another day. Best day to consume, of course, is the day you bake it when the tart lemony glaze is first absorbing into the moist yellow cake.  Gorgeous dessert.

Lemon-Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

1 1/2 dried tart cherries (or any favorite dried fruit)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks butter, at room temp
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
5 eggs
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt


1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 12 cup Bundt pan or 4 mini loaf pans.

Placed dried cherries in a medium bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let sit for 10 minutes and drain.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and toss with your hands.

Combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed for 5-8 minutes. Mixture should be smooth and pale in color. Add eggs, one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate before adding next egg. After last egg, slowly add lemon juice and mix for another minute.

Alternately add small amounts of flour mixture and the yogurt to the batter and stir with a wooden spoon until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Stir in all but about 12 cherries and dump into prepared pans. Should fill about 2/3 of pan.  Bake for about 70 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes, remove from pan by flipping over onto a plate. Let cool completely.


Sift powdered sugar into medium bowl, and then add lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix with a spoon until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the cooled coffee cake and top with remaining cherries.


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