It does look like all we eat around here are lemons and cherries. In fact, we'll be branching out into new food items this week. Any day now, I might talk about the beautiful plums that were at the market. Or the many different kinds of tofu, or the pork loin we're having later in the week. Or the black bean soup. Today, though, I simply want to record the fact that, at the Berkeley Bowl this warm June afternoon, there were at least five versions of that most fleeting of fruits, the cherry: organic rainier, rainier, organic bing, regular bing, and economy bing, my favorite, because they cost only $1.99 a pound. I didn't take a picture, because the crowd around the economy bings was large and aggressive. The pricier ones will have to suffice.
And if you're trying to figure out what to do with those cherries (or any other fruit, for that matter, except strawberries, which tend to get slushy), this is a perfect, easy cake. I got it years ago from Sunset Magazine (May 1997 to be precise) and I make it all the time. It's easily tranformed by using different fruits and it's the work of a moment to mix up: Here it is:
The Cake With A Thousand Faces
Note: Use any juicy berry or pitted cherries. Or cover the surface with a layer of fruit slices — plum, apricot, nectarine, peach, apple, or pear.
Makes: 8 servings
1/2 cup (1/4 pound) butter, cut into chunks
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup fresh unsugared cherries, pitted
1. Butter and dust with flour a 9 inch cake pan with removable rim.
2. In a bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter. Slowly beat with a mixer to blend, then beat on high speed until well mixed, about three minutes.
3. Add one cup flour, baking powder and eggs. Stir to combine, then beat on high speed until the stiff batter is well blended, about 2 minutes.
4. Scrape batter into cake pan and spread top smooth.
5. Scatter cherries evenly over batter. Sprinkle fruit with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
6. bake on the center rack of a 350 degree oven just until cake begins to pull from pan rim, 55 to 60 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife between cake and pan rim. Let cool at least 10 minutes or, if making ahead, wrap cake airtight when cool and let stand at room temperature up to 1 day.
7. Remove pan rim, dust cake with powdered sugar, and cut into wedges.
And, if you must know, each serving amounts to 301 calories, which is not bad at all.