Cherry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Streusel

It’s cherry season, it’s cherry season! The sweet maroon orbs are flooding the stores, and I couldn’t be happier.
They are, however, somewhat pricy; we’ve been eating them judiciously, smashed into a saucy mess and poured over oatmeal, tossed with yogurt and cacao nibs, or fresh from the bowl. This early in the season, we’re still savoring their taste. The pies will come later.
But I couldn’t resist using some of the cherries in this cake. This cake, which is the answer to all our coffee-cake dreams. This cake, which is plushy, soft with buttermilk, cuts like a dream, and tastes like one, too. Don’t you see how this cake was just begging for the addition of cherries, maybe tossed in a little lemon juice?
I went with it. I brought the cherries here, I smothered them in between layers of butter and sugar, and I topped them with the most addictive streusel, made from browned butter, oats, and among other things, a smidgen of salt and cinnamon.
And from this hodge-podge of recipes came a glory of a cake: somewhat homely, definitely a classic, and one that captivated everyone with its texture, taste, and probably, its unseemly but delicious ratio of streusel to cake. A glory.
This is how we ate the last of our $12 bag of cherries. We aren’t in the least bit sorry.

Cherry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Streusel

Yield: one 9″ round or square cake

Streusel adapted from Baked Explorations via Hungry Girl Por Vida, cake adapted from Martha Stewart

Why I love this recipe: this cake is the plushest, softest coffee cake I have ever had, thanks, as per usual, to buttermilk. With a loud vanilla flavor and a slight, buttermilk tang, this cake is the perfect bed for seasonal sweet cherries, which are tart-ed up with a little lemon juice. The brown butter streusel is out-of-this-world good: sweet, crumbly, nutty, and a little salty, with a cinnamon hit that plays well with the cherries.

Notes: If you have sour cherries, you could easily substitute those for the sweet cherries called for here- just don’t add the lemon juice. You could use frozen cherries as well, but you will probably need to adjust the bake time. I have used blueberries, too, and they were delicious. The bake time is quite long, but make sure to bake your cake until there is no wobble to it when you nudge the pan. It will bake up to be moist and sturdy, a perfect consistency.

For the streusel:

  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 stick butter, browned
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/3 cups cherries, pitted and quartered (I used Bing cherries)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a round 9″ pan.
  2. For the streusel: mix together the dry ingredients. Add in the browned butter and vanilla, stir until combined and place in fridge to harden.
  3. For cake: cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl to incorporate everything, then stir in vanilla.
  4. Sift dry ingredients in a second, medium bowl.
  5. Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix well.
  6. Spread a little more than half of the batter in the bottom of the pan.
  7. Toss the cherries in the lemon juice. Sprinkle evenly on top of the cake batter. Cover with the rest of the batter. Remove streusel from fridge and then sprinkle over top of cake.
  8. Bake the cake for 55-65 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool before cutting.
browning butter
brown butter streusel
Cherry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Streusel
Cherry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Streusel

10 responses to “Cherry Buttermilk Cake with Brown Butter Streusel”

  1. I love cherries! I bought a huge bag last week and finished them not long after. Now I know what to do with the next bag. Totally drooling over that first photo Chaya! 😉

    • Yes, cherries are one of the parts of June that I love the most. Also, June strawberries, but that’s another post for another day ;). I hope you make this! It’s messy, and crumbly, and sweet and a touch gooey, and it’s just perfect for breakfast. Or dessert!

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