My parents had several fruit trees in our yard in Ohio when I was growing up. For some reason, the peach and apple trees couldn't hack it, but the sour cherry tree thrived for years. Every summer, we had to race the birds for the bright red orbs glimmering in the harsh July sunlight. People seem to love sweet Bing cherries, but I'm kind of siding with the birds on this one- they knew that sour Montmorency cherries were where it's at! I'm just saying, if robins could operate an oven and had opposable thumbs, they would have been baking cherry pies or cherry streusel muffins or freezing bag after bag of pitted cherries for the winter months when nary a delicious cherry can be found (and don't even mention that scary, gloppy substance known as 'cherry pie filling' that comes in a can....) But since the birds can't whip up a pound cake, it's up to me and you.
I don't know why, but the stands at the PSU Farmers market usually charge several more dollars a pound for sour (or commonly referred to as 'pie') cherries, to the tune of $6.00/lb for the whole, stem-on cherries. Uh, no thank you! I found the one stand selling them for $3.50/lb, but even so, the cherry season was pretty short this year due to the heat. Then I discovered a 2 lb bag of frozen Montmorency cherries at Sheridan's that will fulfill more of my cherry needs...that is, until I can convince my parents to plant a replacement cherry tree in their yard for me to harvest when I visit in the summer.
10 oz (2 cups) fresh or (thawed) frozen sour cherries, pitted and halved
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for marinating cherries
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 oz sour cream
the reserved juice from the strained cherries
1 additional cup of fresh or frozen pitted halved sour cherries
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a mini bundt cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. (The recipe made 8 mini bundts for me, so if your pan only holds 6 bundt cakes, you'll need two pans; I just only greased the tins that I knew I would use.)
2. Combine the 10 oz of sour cherries with 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a medium sized bowl and stir until the sugar starts melting into the juice the cherries release. Let the fruit macerate while you mix the rest of your cake ingredients.
3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour and salt. Set aside while mixing the wet ingredients.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the 2 sticks butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and whip with the paddle attachment until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition.
6. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
7. Strain the macerated cherries through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out as much liquid as you can without smashing up your fruit. Reserve the liquid for the glaze.
8. Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula, then fold in the strained cherries.
9. Divide the batter between the 8 mini bundt cake tins, then bake in the oven until golden brown and a wooden skewer poked through the cake comes out without any batter or wet crumbs clinging to it, about 40-45 minutes.
10. Once you've removed the cake from the oven, let it cool slightly while you make the glaze: pour the juice (about 3/4 cup) and the additional 1 cup of cherries into a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.
11. Invert the mini bundt cakes out onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and slowly drizzle the glaze over the top of each cake. Spoon the cherry halves over the tops.
(Just fyi, going by the recipe, each mini bundt cake contains 2 Tbsp of butter, so you should probably serve at least 2 people from each baby bundt unless you don't care how much butter you consume on a daily basis.) The cakes keep well in the freezer, and also taste delicious still partially frozen.