German Cherry Cake

Sunken Cherry Cake

 J.McGavin / The Spruce Eats

  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: 9 servings

You probably have all the ingredients for this cake batter already in your cupboard so you can get baking right away. Use canned, frozen or fresh, pitted cherries to make this easy picnic cake. Although it is sturdy enough to be eaten out of hand, placing it on a plate along some whipped cream will not harm it at all.

This recipe makes a 9 x 13-inch cake. If you prefer a sheet cake size (10 x 15-inch cookie sheet or roasting pan), as they do in Germany, simply double the recipe.


  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon room temperature butter (125 g.)
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (125 g.)
  • Zest from 1 lemon (1/2 to 1 teaspoon.)
  • 1 5/8 cup flour (200 g.)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3/4 cup canned (drained), frozen (thawed, drained) or fresh (pitted) cherries
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (for decoration)

Steps to Make It

  1. Beat the butter on ​medium-high light and fluffy. Beat in the sifted, powdered sugar. Add in the lemon zest.

  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together. Add half to the butter mixture.

  3. Add the eggs and beat until batter is smooth.

  4. Add the rest of the flour and mix in, then add the sour cream and mix until smooth. The batter will be thick, like brownie batter.

  5. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper and oil and flour the sides (or use a spray oil for baking). Spread the batter in the pan with a spatula about 3/4 of an inch deep.

  6. Space the cherries on top of the batter. Lay them thickly, but let some of the batter show when you're done.

  7. Bake at 390 F/200 C for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and sift powdered sugar over the cake while warm. Serve warm or cold.

Ideas for Flavors and Serving

You can use any kind of berry or fruit you like with this cake.

Try some vanilla, almond extract or a few drops of lemon extract to increase the flavor profile. You can also sprinkle the top of the cake with sliced almonds before baking.

You could place the cherries very evenly so you can cut the cake around them into little, bite-sized squares with one cherry inside each square. This would go well at a picnic or potluck.

High-Altitude Baking Instructions:

For altitudes up to 7000 feet, add about two teaspoons (10 grams) of flour and decrease baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon. Place in cold oven and bake. Turn down oven temperature towards the end of the baking time.

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