Sour Cherry Almond Torte

The fire alarm testers are making their rounds in our building today. Not only are alarms blaring one at a time with increasing proximity, each one scaring the bloody bajeezus out of me, but I’ve learned that we are additionally protected by a speaker system in each room, also being tested. A man’s voice has been saying “testing” in a bored monotone voice, at 1 minute intervals, for periods of 10 minutes at time, in alternating rooms, ALL DAY LONG.

The icing (sugar) on the cake? My dog is fully scared stiff by this unearthly voice. To defend himself from the sinister invisible man in our home, he follows each “testing” with an angry, growly bark. So my life at present is being punctuated by “BEEP BEEP!” “testing” “BARK!” “BEEP BEEP!” “testing” “BARK!” “BEEP BEEP!” “testing” “BARK!”. My bloodshot eyes are bulging out of my head, which is twitching involuntarily.

I’m so tempted to join in the fun by taking a tequila shot each time…

But alas, there is work to be done. Including sharing this lovely sour cherry almond torte with you.

I am obsessed with sour cherries. They are 100% unquestionably my favourite fruit. So tart and juicy and vibrantly red. I would do things I am ashamed of for a piece of sour cherry pie.

However, despite British Columbia being a bountiful cherry-growing province, I have never found the sour varieties at the markets. If you have a tip for me, please share it!

I did find them frozen recently, when I stumbled into an Eastern European delicatessan to buy something for lunch after an productive morning at the pottery studio. They were nestled into the freezer case next to fat bags of homemade pierogies, those gleaming ruby red gems. No stickers, no signs, just handfuls of sour cherries tossed into sacks secured with twist ties.

My voice squeaked a little when I held a bag out to the charming czech lady behind the counter and asked wide eyed “are these… *gulp*… sour cherries??”. Her affirmation led me to do some gleeful hopping around the store.

My friend Kristiana patiently accepted having the cherries shaken in her face for the next five minutes while I regaled her with the tale of my search for these precious little fruits. She smiled at me like I wasn’t crazy and nodded at all the crucial bits of my story. I think she even participated in a sour-cherry high five. She’s a good friend.

I took home my bounty, and baked it into a moist, nutty torte. The torte itself is made with flour and almond meal (aka ground almonds, or almond flour), producing a very tender, rich cake. A layer of cherries is cooked into the centre, and the top is sprinkled with sliced almonds.

Almonds and cherries are a match made in heaven.

I still have half my bag left, I think I am going to cook them simply in a lightly sweetened compote to have with thick yogurt for breakfast.

Sour Cherry Almond Torte

Serve dusted with icing sugar, or better yet, with homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream.

For Filling

  • 1 lb sour cherries (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For Cake

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Stir together cherries, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until cherries soften and liquid thickens, about 7-10 minutes. Set mixture aside to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ springform pan; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, sugar and salt. Use a pastry blender to work butter into the flour mixture, until the butter pieces are no larger than lentils. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping. Stir baking soda into remaining mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and almond extract. Gently stir into dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined.

4. Spread two-thirds of the cake batter in the bottom of the springform pan. Use a large spoon to gently spread cherry filling over bottom layer, then drop remaining 1/3 dough by spoonfuls over top. Gently smooth surface with the back of a clean spoon; sprinkle with reserved butter-flour mixture and sliced almonds. Bake for 55-65 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown and tester inserted in the centre of the cake layer comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing ring; cool completely on wire rack.

  • wanda

    What’s the name of the store you went to? I think I need to make this torte….it looks wonderful. And I have some almond meal from Trader Joes that I need to use. Could you show us a piece of it cut out?

    • foodess

      I wanted to show you the inside, Wanda, but it got gobbled up too fast!! There is a distinct layer of gooey delicious cherries – their weight compresses the bottom layer significantly, so a slice looks like this from the bottom up: 1/2 inch of cake, 3/4 inch of cherry filling, 1 1/2 inches of cake.

      I don’t remember the name of the store, but it was in a strip right at the southeast corner where Kingsway, 16th and Fraser all intersect.

  • Sarah Klein

    That looks delicious! If you ever make it to Door County, Wisconsin the main cherry over here is the sour one. I love them.

    • foodess

      Well I think that is reason alone to visit!!

  • Irene

    Hi Jen! Do you think this would work with sour cherries from a jar? I’ve never seen fresh sour cherries here in Australia:) It sounds amazing though!

    • foodess

      Yes I do, Irene! If they have sugar added, skip the sugar in the cherry filling step, and include 1/4 cup of the juice.

  • natalievana

    I think they also have them frozen in a little European Deli off Robson in the westend. They also have sour cherry perogies! 

    • foodess

      WHAT? Sour cherry perogies?! My brain just exploded.

  • Cheryl Kohan

    Oh, this looks scrumptious!  I have almond meal which I love (it’s Trader Joe’s brand) and I’m always looking for good recipes to try with it!   This one looks perfect.

  • Sarah P

    Yes! This is the perfect way to lure my mom for a visit. Also, so excited you two are keeping up the pottery!

    • foodess

      You should join us some time, Sarah!

  • hanseata

    I can feel your pain – no sour cherries here in Maine either. I planted a little tree in my garden, and harvested 13 (!) cherries last year. Only about 10 years to have enough for a cherry torte :)

  • Debi Shawcross

    Will be ready to make this one when sour cherries show up at the farmer’s market. Cherries and almond together in the same place are fantastic together!

  • kit

    We are fortunate to have a little sour cherry orchard in our community garden here in center city Philadelphia and I think this will be a great addition to my sour cherry recipes.  One question – Am I missing the part where the 1/2 cup reserve of butter, flour, almond meal, sugar and salt gets sprinkled over the torte and then the sliced almonds?  Or does that get mixed with the sliced almonds?

    • foodess

      Hi Kit! So jealous of your sour cherry orchard. You are right – I skipped that step in the recipe. It’s been fixed now. Thank you for pointing that out! Enjoy!

  • Nastaran

    Sour cherries are a very Persian (we Persians think everything is very Persian) and can be found FRESH mid-summer at almost all Persian groceries around Vancouver. Our specialty is sour cherry (albaloo) jam, the tart and sweet make for the best combo.
    You can pick up sour cherry syrup in jars, year-round at the same markets. We mix it with water and rose water for a refreshing summer drink. Enjoy!

    • foodess

      Sounds wonderful! There are lots of delicacies in the Persian markets that’s for sure!

  • Alan Lendaro

    Sounds great.. would like to make this. So far, I have only found Sour Cherries in jars. Can I substitute them for the frozen?

    • foodess

      Sure, just drain them and add a bit of lemon juice in step 1 – I’d reduce the sugar to 2 tbsp too, then adjust to taste (jarred sour cherries come in syrup).