Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grandma's Cherry Carnival

When I was young, my grandma had the most wonderful cherry tree in her front yard- her house was in the suburbs and when she bought the cherry tree it was supposed to be semi-dwarf- over the years it became obvious this was no semi-dwarf cherry tree but full sized. This tree produced the most wonderful cherries- we would help grandma pick them every year- and loved all the fresh cherries we would get to eat- she also canned a bunch of them- which were both beautiful and wonderful tasting!

One of my favorite desserts that she would make using these cherries was called Cherry Carnival- a moist cake with cherries inside and topped with a sweet cherry sauce. Today I decided I would make this recipe as a nice summer afternoon dessert.
Very wonderful, and it brought me right back to when I was young, it was nice telling the kids how grandma used to make this recipe for me when I was young.

This recipe is perfect for summer - cherries always remind me of summertime.

Cherry Carnival

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 can pie cherries (I used a 15 oz can of Dark Sweet Cherries)-Drain and Reserve the liquid from the cherries for the sauce.

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar, then beat in eggs in a bowl. Sift dry ingredients together, and mix in alternating with milk. Add vanilla, then fold in drained cherries (remember to save the juice from the cherries for the sauce).

Pour into a greased & floured 8x8 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 F. 30-45 minutes or until done, when toothpick inserted in center comes out dry- or the sides shrink away from the pan. Set aside to cool. I let mine cool for about 15- 20 minutes then I start making the sauce- you could also make the cake before dinner and then make the sauce right before you are ready to serve it.

Cherry Sauce

Reserved Cherry juice plus water to make 2 cups of liquid
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (original recipe calls for Almond extract which would probably taste wonderful if you were not allergic to tree nuts)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl or cup mix corn starch with just enough water to make a paste the consistency of cream. My sauce never seems to thicken with out adding more than 2 tablespoons of cornstarch- so I use two heaping tablespoons. If you need to add more to get your sauce to thicken be sure and mix it with water first, so you don't get clumps- this sauce is very much like making a gravy.

Add water to the reserved cherry juice to make 2 cups of liquid, pour into a saucepan, and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add corn starch mixture slowly to the boiling sauce, stir constantly until thickened. When sauce has thickened remove from heat and add butter, flavor extract, and cinnamon. Serve warm over cherry cake. I cut the cake into 9 pieces.

This classic homemade dessert is sure to be a hit with your family, hope everyone gives it a try this summer!


  1. I have some canned cherries in the pantry yet....I'm going to try this! Looks yummy

  2. Now that does look good! I love it's name. Sounds so festive. We've been craving cherries around here. Just finished up a large jar of black cherry preserves and we're still not satisfied. Will have to see if your recipe will cure us of our cravings!

  3. I guess I will be buying canned fruit this weekend for all these yummy desserts!

  4. Thanks for all the positive comments :) I love cherries in the summer- hope everyone enjoys trying out this recipe! Thanks~April

  5. My mom used to make this cake. Sometimes she used a boxed spice cake mix for the cake. She also usually put nuts in it. It was a favorite of mine


I love to hear your thoughts, feedback, and ideas. Please feel free to leave a comment.