There are certain times when the world around you just seems to stop. Those times especially seem to come when you least expect it. Three weeks ago, I was in the middle of a very large project at work when I got the call that my grandma was not likely to make it much longer. That next morning she passed away. It was hard to hear, but I am very much at peace that she is now relieved of her pain and is celebrating with God right now in a much better place.
In Grandma Chris’ honor, I want to share photos, memories and a recipe of hers for Cherry Pudding Cake, which I’ve adapted a bit.
It’s taken me a little time to compose and write this post, thankfully Kesha has been busy baking and posting in my place. It’s hard to know what to write in a few paragraphs about a woman who was deserving of so much more than these sentences can provide.
It’s interesting how death can bring such clarity as all the things you think previously important fade into the background and other things come to light. One blessing of this experience is that my grandma had been in assisted living for about 12 years, so my memories of her more active life had faded for me. Looking through photos and awards with my family clearly reminded me of just how wonderful she was.
My grandma was a bit of a sassy rebel. She liked to be independent and kept her hair short and would only be called Chris. People would remark that they would see a tiny little woman with short white hair walking all over town. She had completed a remarkable amount of volunteer hours in her local community. A World War Two nurse veteran, she was a loving caretaker, and opened her home and arms to so many in our family.
There’s only one area of her life where I can talk a little more humbly. From what I hear and remember, she was not a great cook, but she did know how to make a few signature items very, very well. One of those recipes is for her cherry pudding cake. This is one of those humble and comforting winter desserts. The warm cherries, cake, pudding and whipped cream are a little bit of heaven. My friends who I shared this with told me that it was the perfect thing they wanted to eat on the cold and snow-filled evening we were having.
Cherry Almond Pudding Cake
- adapted from my Grandma Chris
makes 9″x12″ pan, about 12-16 slices
- 3 cups cherries*
- 2-1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated pure cane sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- juice from frozen cherries
- 1 cup frozen cherries*
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated pure cane sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated pure cane sugar
*if buying for this recipe, you will need 4 total cups of frozen cherries (3 cups for cake and 1 cup for sauce)
make the pudding cake
Unthaw 4 cups of cherries and drain them into a bowl, reserving their juice for later. Save 1 cup of cherries for later as well. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until well mixed. Add almond extract. Add half the amount of milk. Then add half of the flour mixture. Repeat until all are mixed together. Fold in cherries and toasted almonds.
Pour batter in pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over top of batter. Then, pour boiling water over top of batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Due to the boiling water, the cake will have a pudding-like consistency which makes it a little more difficult to discern when the cake is finished. As long as a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it should be fully baked.
make the cherry sauce
In a small sauce pan, mix together the reserved cherry juice, 1 cup cherries, lemon juice, sugar, water and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add almond extract, if desired. If cherry sauce is too thick, place back on stovetop and add a little water to thin out.
make the whipped cream
Pour cold whipped cream into a cold mixing bowl. If you have a stand mixer, use the wire whip attachment. Start beating slowly and speed up until you see soft peaks. Add sugar and continue beating until cream forms stiff peaks.
Serve the pudding cake warm and pour warm cherry sauce over cake. Top with fresh whipped cream and serve.