There's a secret to this simple, almost pound cake dessert: it freezes beautifully! Perfect for tucking in a lunchbox or pulling out of the freezer on a rainy day, slices of this cake thawed will rival their just baked counterparts. And it works with any juicy fruit or berry!
This cake ends up having a dense, perfectly cake-y texture. The cherries release their juices and form an almost caramelized layer on top the not too sweet cake. Once you've made it once or twice you'll realize it's hardly even necessary to measure the fruit -- just line the bottom of the pan with enough to create a nice colorful layer.
The finishing touch of a dusting of powdered sugar and toasted almonds dresses the whole thing up enough to bring to a dinner party. And it makes you feel extra special pulling a slice out of the freezer a few months after baking!
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment 2 1/3 cups cake flour, plus more for pan 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh cherries, pitted and halved 1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 large eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons almond extract 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk Powdered sugar 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9"-10" spring form pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper. Dust pan with flour, tapping out any excess. Arrange cherries in an even layer and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
Sift cake flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl and set aside. Add butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in almond and lemon zest. Reduce speed to low and incorporate flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk, ending with flour mixture. Pour batter over cherries in pan and smooth the top.
Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then run a thin, sharp knife around the edge of the pan and release the spring form collar. Invert cake onto a rack and remove bottom and parchment paper. Let cake cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle with toasted almonds before serving.
To freeze, slice cake into generous wedges. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place slices into a freezer bag or storage container in freezer. Let slices thaw at room temperature, dust with powdered sugar, sprinkle with almonds, and serve.