Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maraschino Cherry Cake Revision a Success

I know, cake/frosting/filling recipes two days in a row! There are lots of birthdays in April around here between friends and my family!
Maraschino Cherry Cake, revised, Moist and perfect!

In yesterday's blog I mentioned wanting to see if I could make the Maraschino Cherry Cake I made last August for my husband into something actually moist enough to be edible. I tried one of the tips I found online (using a vanilla pudding mix) in a white cake recipe, but I was less than pleased. While the cake may or may not have been more moist, the flavor was all wrong. Okay, so scratch that particular tip. But the real reason I looked for tips on making a cake more moist was for that Maraschino Cherry Cake. The original cake I made was tasty. Nothing wrong with flavors. It was just way-the-heck too dry. Still, when a friend of ours, Tetiana, stopped over and I offered her a piece, with the caveat that it was far too dry. I had not realized at the time that she also was a cherry fiend along the lines of my husband. For her (she said) the cake was perfect and she loved it!

Some of the other tips on making a moister cake were things like adding more sugar than the cake called for, adding more butter, adding some oil to the recipe, folding in either yogurt or sour cream at the end, and other things such as substituting brown sugar and using more egg yolks. These last two were not ones I would use in my Maraschino Cherry Cake, because I was basically using a white cake recipe and adding in Maraschino cherries and some of the syrup. I took the recipe I had originally created (see that recipe here) and looked through the ingredients to see where I could use some of these suggestions. 

Tetiana's Maraschino Cherry Cake
The changes I made were minimal. Instead of milk I used an equal amount of heavy cream. I added an extra 4 tablespoons of butter and an extra half-cup of sugar, lowered the baking powder amount by a teaspoon and the salt by 1/4 teaspoon. And lastly, 3/4 cup of sour cream was folded in at the end with the cherries. Looking at these changes, I was worried about the extra butter and sugar making it too thin a batter, so I added one more egg white for binding power. I had forgotten I had some Washington cherry flavor I had gotten at the King Arthur Flour website. While it is not Maraschino cherry flavor, I figured it would still bring more cherry flavor to the cake, so I added a little dash of that too.

The outcome was absolutely spectacular. I made a smaller cake (two 7-inch layers instead the regular 8 or 9-inch) for Tetiana and then made one tiny 6-inch layer so my husband and I could taste and critique the cake. I divided the 7-inch layers in half, making 4 thin layers. I cut the little 6-inch layer in half also, making it a 2-layer bitty cake for us to try.The cake itself was moist as can be with fantastic cherry flavor and color. The crumb was delicate and fine. It was all I could hope for in a cake.

Maraschino Cherry Cake, revised
Tiny 6-inch Maraschino Cherry Cake

makes one (2-layer) 8 or 9-inch round cake

6 large egg whites
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup Maraschino cherry syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Washington Cherry Flavor, optional
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (10-oz) jar Maraschino cherries, drained
3/4 cup / 6-ounces sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection Bake). Spray two round cake pans with nonstick spray. Cut parchment rounds to fit the bottom of the pans and set them in place, then spray the parchment. Set the pans aside.

Drain the jar of cherries (keeping the syrup for flavor) and cut the cherries in half or quarters. Set them aside to drain well while making the cake batter.

Whisk the egg whites together in a bowl until just foamy and well broken down. Add in the cream, cherry syrup and extract(s) and whisk well. Measure out 1/2 cup of this mixture and set aside. 

In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add in the soft butter (not melted) with the 1/2 cup of liquid mixture. Begin beating slowly, increasing speed as the mixture begins to coalesce. Add in the remaining liquid mixture and beat slowly to combine, then increase speed to medium for about 1 minute to combine and aerate.  On low speed, add in the drained cherries and the sour cream. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake the cake layers for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a crumb or two. Do not overbake! The batter is very light and fluffy soft, so watch carefully.

Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely before filling and frosting. 

MAKE AHEAD: If not using the cakes right away they may be frozen. The 8 or 9-inch cake pan with the cake in it can be placed inside a gallon zip-top bag and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw before filling or frosting. To make the 4 layer cake, slice each layer in half horizontally to make 4 thinner layers.

In yesterday's blog I gave the recipe for the Blackberry Mascarpone Filling  I made for the birthday cake I made for friend Heidi and myself. (I just realized I forgot to even add the Mascarpone as an ingredient! That is now rectified.) I wanted to do a similar thing with the Maraschino cherry cake's filling, so I used the same recipe, using a cherry jam (again, not Maraschino cherry flavor, and I had to pass it through a sieve to make it smooth enough). To make the cherry flavor more intense, I boiled down 6 tablespoons cherry preserves with about 1/4 cup of the Maraschino syrup to make a total of about the same 1/4 cup of cherry as there was blackberry jam in that recipe. It worked very well and the cherry flavor was beautiful.

Cherry Mascarpone Filling

makes enough to fill a 4 layer cake with plenty left over

1 jar (10 ounce) maraschino cherries, drained, syrup reserved
6 tablespoons cherry preserves (not jelly)
1/4 cup reserved Maraschino syrup
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cherry flavor, optional

1 carton (8-ounces) Mascarpone cheese

Drain the Maraschino cherries well and cut them in half. Set them on paper toweling to drain while making the filling.

Pass the cherry preserves through a sieve. Measure the amount after sieving. In a small saucepan, combine the measured preserves and the Maraschino cherry syrup and bring to boil. Keep at a steady low boil for about 10 minutes, reducing the mixture to about 1/4 cup. Allow to cool while beating the butter.
Left: the cherry mixture cooked down to thick syrup       |               Right, the finished Cherry Mascarpone Filling

Make sure the butter is soft. If room temperature still has the butter too hard, hold it in warm hands or use the microwave in short 2 - 5 second bursts to soften, but not melt. One or two short microwave bursts should be enough. Place the softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed or higher and beat it for 8 minutes, until very, very light and creamy-pale, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl once or twice during the 8 minutes. Add in the cooled cherry mixture and beat to combine. Add in the confectioners' sugar all at once and mix on very lowest setting until it is moistened. Add the flavorings to combine, then increase the speed to medium or medium high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 or 6 minutes more. Add the softened Mascarpone cheese and beat just to combine. 

To fill the cake, spread a good layer of this filling onto a cake layer, setting some of the drained cherry halves onto the filling. Top with another cake layer and repeat, then once more, pressing gently on each cake layer as it is added. If any filling oozes out, use the tip of a butter knife or table knife to scrape away any excess. Refrigerate the cake before frosting to set up the filling so the layers do not slide around.. 

Use this filling between the layers of the Maraschino Cherry Cake for those Maraschino cherry lovers in your life!  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.