Ah… what to do with 2 pounds of fresh cherries…

If you’re a normal person, you just grab ’em and eat ’em. If you’re me, you turn them into a dessert. I was actually a semi-good boy with this one. It’s not nearly as over-the-top ooey and gooey as I could have gone. And not a drop of heavy cream!

The original recipe came from Bon Appetit about 10 years ago, I think. That was back when I actually still liked the magazine. They’ve pretty much lost me, nowadays. I stopped subscribing several years ago but had a subscription to La Cucina Italiana – another Conde Nast magazine I loved and always found recipes to make. Conde Nast ceased publication of the US version of La Cucina – it’s still available in Italian – and I ended up with a subscription to Bon Appetit in its place. I should have taken the cash refund.

Oh well.

I have a folder full of recipes I’ve cut out of magazines over the years and if I actually stopped and made the recipes I already have, I wouldn’t have time to make any others. I have slowed down on the cook book acquisitions, though. Well… except for the digital ones I keep downloading. But that’s different. Sorta.

The cake is baked in a skillet, which makes for easy prep and clean-up. You will want to use a straight-sided pan – and one that can go into the oven for 45 minutes or so. It also calls for a couple teaspoons of balsamic vinegar in the cherries. I used a really nice, aged balsamic because we have lots and I figured if I’m going to pit 2 pounds of cherries, I’m going for the gold, so to speak.


Cherry Upside-Down Polenta Cake

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds pitted fresh cherries
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup stone-ground polenta or cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • hefty pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10″ skillet. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter in large bowl with sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions mixing until just blended. Beat egg whites in another bowl with cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Carefully fold in remaining whites. Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly to cover cherries.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Place cake plate atop skillet and carefully flip. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. Rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Cool at least 45 minutes.



A few cherries stuck to the pan but they were easily placed back on the cake.

And it’s a winner! Not too sweet and with a nice little corn crunch from the stone-ground corn. I’m thinkin’ that this will be good with fresh peaches when they arrive…

I’ll have to see what other fun I can have with this…