The Family Table: A Recipe ‘Stained From Cherry Juice and Frequent Use’

Readers share their treasured recipes
By The Family Table
The Family Table
The Family Table
July 30, 2021 Updated: July 31, 2021

Submitted by Charlene Hornick, Eugene, Oregon

This cherry cake recipe was written on a 3-by-5-inch card in my mother’s recipe box, stained from cherry juice and frequent use. This is a family favorite, passed from my grandmother to my mother. No one knows the origin.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Charlene Hornick)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Charlene Hornick)

It was served to guests about 60 percent of the time, since it makes quite a bit, and we were a family of three. The dozens of times I have served this cake, everyone I gave it to had never had anything like it. The warmed sauce is the added touch. That’s what makes it so different.

The chore I really liked, as a young girl, was standing on a stool and picking each cherry from the can of tart cherries. The goal was to be sure there were no cherry seeds that would go into the cake. I confess that I liked pinching the cherries because I’d eat one now and then.

Times with my mother in the kitchen, me on the stool pinching cherries and her mixing the cake batter, culminating in pleasant aromas filling the kitchen, are cranium Kodak moments for me.

Epoch Times Photo
The author, age 3, with her mother. (Courtesy of Charlene Hornick)

Cherry Cake and Sauce

Author’s Note: I gently squeeze each and every cherry, checking for pits. Occasionally, there will be one—rarely, but you surely don’t want anyone, especially a guest, biting down on a hard cherry pit.

Makes one 8-by-12-inch cake

  • 1/3 cup shortening (or butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 15-ounce can whole pitted tart cherries in water, well-drained (2 1/4 cups cherries; reserve the drained juice)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Dash salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup cherry juice (drained from the can)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavor
  • Few drops of red food coloring (optional)

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream shortening. Add sugar, cream thoroughly. Blend with beaten eggs.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with milk to creamed ingredients. Blend in well-drained cherries and nuts.

Pour into greased and floured 8-by-12-inch pan. Bake 45 minutes.

For the Sauce

Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch together. Blend in cherry juice and water.

Stir until liquid reaches a boil. Boil until thick, about 10 minutes.

Add flavoring and food coloring (optional). Serve hot on cake.

Epoch Times Photo
Serve the cake with hot cherry sauce spooned on top. (Charlene Hornick)

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How have you kept the recipe alive, and why is it important to you to do so?

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The Family Table
The Family Table