By Cassie Johnston
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There is an orchard on our homestead. And when I say “orchard,” I mean “area of grass that will someday hopefully hold fruit trees,” because the truth is, our orchard produces pretty much nothing but crabgrass and dandelions now.
That didn’t used to be the case. When I was a little girl growing up here, I remember rows and rows of fruit trees. And right smack in the middle was an old, knotty, twisted cherry tree. My family never had much luck growing tree fruits (hence the empty orchard now), but we could always count on that cherry tree to produce gallons and gallons of vibrantly red cherries. There was no need to have more than one tree—that sucker kept us in cherry pie and cherry preserves all year ’round.
I think my love for all things cherry comes from that workhorse of a tree. I have so many fond memories of picking the low-hanging fruit as a little girl and some not-so-fond memories of “pick cherries” being on my chore list as a teenager. Even though I wasn’t happy about going out and picking the fruit as a 13-year-old (with my head wrapped in a white t-shirt, so my dark hair wouldn’t get too hot in the summer sun), I sucked it up because I knew there were many, many delicious things to come from all that effort.
And, honestly, I always liked picking cherries a heck of a lot more than I liked pitting cherries. That’s an annoying country kid chore that’s right up there with filling mole holes, carrying firewood and snapping pole beans. Although, if you use the ole pastry tip trick (use a pastry tip to poke the pit out—works every time), it makes pitting cherries much easier! In fact, it makes it a little bit fun, even.
Even though we always had enough cherries stashed in the freezer to make the world’s largest cherry pie when I was a kid, we actually didn’t have dessert much growing up in my house. Dessert was definitely a treat reserved for birthdays, holidays, and visitors, and you knew something special was happening (or someone special was coming over) when Mama fired up the oven and started working on a dessert for after supper. In my world, when company is coming over, you vacuum the rugs, put on some music, and bake them something delicious for dessert. And in summer, that meant cobblers, pies, and maybe even a fruity cake!
My friends over at Blue Diamond Almonds asked me to use some of their all natural almonds in a dish that would be perfect for summer entertaining, and my mind immediately thought of dessert. Because still, to this day, you know we’ve got company coming over when I make a dessert!
To me, desserts in the summer have to be fruit-based. I’m as big of a chocoholic as the next girl, but save your triple fudge brownie chocolate cheesecake buttercream surprise for the middle of winter. In July, I want something fresh and fruity. Maybe that’s because I had so many delicious, delicious fruit-based desserts during the summers of my childhood (and many of them thanks to that old cherry tree). There is something about a dessert made with fresh fruit, preferably picked the same day, that just feels like quintessential summer. And when combined with the natural, nutty flavor of almonds, this cake is a perfect option for serving to guests on a hot summer day (especially if you have some freshly-churned vanilla ice cream to plop alongside it).
Unfortunately, that cherry tree from my childhood succumbed to old age a few years ago. Even though it wasn’t alive anymore, we still kept its twisted trunk and branches in the middle of the orchard out of respect for how many years and years of delicious fruit it produced for us. And then, last year, I was mowing in the orchard, and happened to bump one of the branches of the tree and the whole thing came crashing down—it was completely hollow from rot. Maybe one day, we’ll plant another cherry tree in that same spot and our daughter will have as many good cherry-flavored memories from it as I do from that old tree.
The cherries turn into a gooey, syrupy topping for the dense almond cake, making this Cherry-Almond Upside Down Cake a perfect partner to a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a warm mug of coffee.
This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. All content and opinions are my own.
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This look phenomenal. I’m going to make it as soon as I can!
One question– think I can use frozen cherries instead of fresh ones? I’ve got some on hand that I’d like to use up.
I don’t see why not! I would probably thaw them first, just to keep them from making the cake too soggy.
I just recently found your blog and wanted to say how much I like your style. This sponsored post fits right in with your other work and the cake sounds absolutely yummy. You are doing it right! Keep it up.
Fantastic post with nice recipe and pretty photo review. Ann
This looks perfect! And I had a cherry tree in my childhood in Indiana that kept me picking for days too. It was a bright sour cherry tree and I love it!
Cherries never fail to fascinate me since childhood; completely in love with them! I once baked a chocolate cake by using cherries in a similar manner and it was simply awesome. I will try this one also and I am quite sure that the result will be fantastic. Thanks for sharing this :)
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