Cherry Streusel Cake

This cherry streusel cake is sweet, moist, and packed with the fruity flavor of cherries. With a crumbly, buttery topping and a tender cake layer, it’s a dessert between a cake and a pie.

slice of cherry streusel cake on plate

If you’re looking for a delicious dessert that’s also fuss-free, then this recipe is it! You’ll start with a simple cake batter, then top it with cherry pie filling and a buttery streusel. It bakes up into a beautiful, delicious dessert that’s perfect for any occasion.

If you’re a fan of cherry-flavored treats, you’ll also love my cherry juice cookies, cherry cheesecake, and chocolate cherry oat bars. They all showcase the sweet-tart flavor of cherries in different, delicious ways.

vintage cookbook page with streusel cherry cake instructions

This recipe was found in a dessert cookbook published in 1968.  I chose to test this recipe because I love the tartness of cherries with a sweet cake – and because my dad is an all-around cherry fan so I love trying new recipes for him to enjoy.

Why I Love This Recipe

  • Classic Flavors: This recipe is a tried and true combination of sweet cherries, buttery cake, and a delicious crumb topping. It’s a classic for a reason!
  • Family Favorite: The sweet, juicy cherries and buttery crumb topping make this cake a hit with both kids and adults. It’s a family favorite in my house, and I’m sure it will be in yours too.
  • Surprisingly Easy: Despite its impressive appearance, this cake actually quite easy to make. It’s the perfect dessert for when you want to impress without the stress.
  • Unbeatable Texture: The combination of the soft, moist cake and the crunchy crumb topping is a combo that’s simply irresistible.
ingredients to make cake

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Key Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour: This is the base of our cake, providing structure and a light, fluffy texture when combined with the other ingredients.
  • Granulated Sugar: Sweetens both the cake and the streusel topping, and also helps to give the cake a golden brown color when baked.
  • Butter: Adds a rich, buttery flavor to the cake and helps to keep it moist. For the streusel, it is essential for that crumbly texture.
  • Eggs: These act as a binding agent in the cake, holding all the other ingredients together and giving the cake a slightly dense, but still light, texture.
  • Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor of the cake, giving it a warm, sweet aroma that pairs beautifully with the cherries.
  • Drained Canned Pitted Cherries: These will be folded into the cake batter, giving it a sweet, fruity flavor and a pop of color.
  • Ground Cinnamon: Adds a warm, spicy flavor to the streusel topping, complement the sweetness of the cherries.

Equipment

  • 9×13 inch baking pan – This is the perfect size for this cherry streusel cake recipe. It’s important to grease and flour it well to ensure the cake doesn’t stick.
  • Mixer – You’ll need a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine the ingredients for the cake and the streusel topping. It makes the process much easier and ensures everything is well-mixed.
  • Wire Whisk – This is essential for combining the flour, sugar, and baking powder, and for whisk in the eggs and milk for the cake batter.
close up of streusel cake on plate with fork

How to Make Cherry Streusel Cake

Preparation

To start off, preheat your oven to 400˚ F and make sure to grease and flour your 9×13 baking pan. This will prevent the cake from sticking to the pan and make it easy to remove after baking. Drain the canned cherries.

dry ingredients in bowl
cake batter in bowl

Step 1 – Prepare the Cake Batter

Combine the dry ingredients by mixing the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Then, add the wet ingredients – the eggs and milk – and whisk them together until the mixture is smooth. Next, pour in the melted butter and vanilla extract, and beat the mixture well. This will be your cake batter.

cherry layer on cake batter

Step 2 – Layer the Cake and Cherries

Pour the cake batter into your greased and floured 9×13 baking pan. Spread it out evenly. Then, take your drained cherries and spread them over the cake batter. The cherries will sink into the batter as the cake bakes.

streusel topping in bowl
streusel topping on cake batter

Step 3 – Prepare and Add the Streusel

To make the streusel topping, combine the softened butter, flour, sugar, and ground cinnamon. Mix them together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle this streusel mixture over the layer of cherries in the baking pan. This will give your cake a sweet, crumbly top layer.

baked cake

Step 4 – Bake the Cake

Pop your cake into the preheated 400˚ F oven and bake it for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 375˚ F without opening the oven door, and bake the cake for an additional 30 minutes. This two-step baking process will ensure that your cake is cooked through and has a golden, crispy top.

Step 5 – Serve the Cake

Once your cake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a bit. This cake is best served warm, so you can enjoy it right away. It’s perfect for a cozy dessert or a sweet brunch treat.

After baking, you’ll notice the edges overflow onto the streusel. This will not affect the flavor and crispy topping. Serve as is. If you don’t like how it “looks” you can top with whipped cream when serving.

Expert Tip

To make the best cherry streusel cake, start by making the streusel topping first. This will make the flow of making the recipe easier, and you won’t have to rush to prepare it while your cake batter is ready.

close up of streusel on plate

Recipe Variations

  • Blueberries: If you’re a fan of blueberries, you can easily swap out the cherries in this recipe for an equal amount of fresh or canned blueberries.
  • Apples: For a more fall-inspired dessert, try using apples. Simply peel, core, and slice 3-4 large apples and arrange them over the cake batter. The streusel topping adds a sweet crunch that pairs perfectly with the soft, baked apples.
  • Raspberries: Another great option is to use raspberries. Their tartness provides a nice contrast to the sweet cake and streusel topping.

What to Serve With

  • For a delicious dessert, serve a slice of this cherry streusel cake with a dollop of whipped cream. The lightness of the cream compliments the rich, buttery cake and the sweet cherries, making it a perfect way to end a meal.
  • If you’re a fan of a la mode, you’ll love this cherry streusel cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cold, creamy ice cream is a great contrast to the warm, tender cake, and the hint of vanilla in the ice cream brings out the flavors of the cherries.
  • Looking for a special treat? Pair this cherry streusel cake with a cup of hot coffee. The slightly bitter coffee is a great match for the sweetness of the cake, and the caffeine will help to balance out the sugar, leaving you feeling satisfied but not too full.

Recipe FAQs

What makes this cake a “cherry cake”?

This cake gets its name from the generous amount of canned pitted cherries that are placed on top of the batter before baking. As the cake bakes, the cherries soften and release their sweet juices, giving the cake a burst of cherry flavor in every bite.

Can I use fresh cherries instead of canned ones?

Yes, you can absolutely use fresh cherries for this recipe. Just make sure to pit them before adding to the cake. You may also want to macerate the fresh cherries in a bit of sugar to help them release their juices and sweeten up, as they may be tarter than the canned cherries.

What is the purpose of the streusel topping?

The streusel topping adds a sweet and crunchy element to the cake, which contrasts beautifully with the softness of the cherries and the cake itself. It’s a signature feature of this recipe and really takes the cherry cake to the next level.

How do I know when the cake is done?

The cake is done when the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Just be careful not to over-bake, as the cake can become dry.

Storing and Reheating

  • Storing: After enjoying a delicious slice of cherry streusel cake, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container. It will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing: If you want to store it for a longer period, this cake is freezer-friendly. Once it has completely cooled, cut it into individual portions. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw: When you’re ready to enjoy the cake, simply let it thaw at room temperature. It will take about 2-3 hours to defrost completely.

Serving Size

  • What to Expect: This cherry streusel cake recipe yields a delicious 13×9-inch cake, enough to serve 12 generous slices.
  • How to Scale: If you’re planning to serve a larger crowd, you can easily double the recipe and follow the instructions as directed. Just make sure to use a larger mixing bowl to accommodate the increased quantity of ingredients and use two 9×13 baking pans.
cherry streusel cake on plate
Created by: Lynette Rice

Cherry Streusel Cake


Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 20 slices
20 slices
This cherry streusel cake is sweet, moist, and packed with the fruity flavor of cherries. With a crumbly, buttery topping and a tender cake layer, it's a dessert between a cake and a pie.

Ingredients
  

Cake

  • 1 ½ Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ Cup milk
  • 5 Tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 30 oz canned pitted cherries drained

Topping

  • ¾ Cup butter softened
  • 1 ½ Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚ F. Grease and flour a 9×13 baking pan.
  • Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder. Whisk in the eggs and milk until smooth. Add the butter and vanilla and beat well. Pour in the greased and floured 9×13 baking pan. Spoon the drained cherries over the batter.
  • To make the topping, mix the butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon until it resembles crumbs. Sprinkle over the cherry layer.
  • Bake in a 400˚ F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375˚ F without opening the oven for an additional 30 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Notes

Expert Tip: To make the best cherry streusel cake, start by making the streusel topping first. This will make the flow of making the recipe easier, and you won’t have to rush to prepare it while your cake batter is ready.
After baking, you’ll notice the edges overflow onto the streusel. This will not affect the flavor and crispy topping. Serve as is. If you don’t like how it “looks” you can top with whipped cream when serving.
Storing: After enjoying a delicious slice of cherry streusel cake, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container. It will stay fresh at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Freezing: If you want to store it for a longer period, this cake is freezer-friendly. Once it has completely cooled, cut it into individual portions. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw: When you’re ready to enjoy the cake, simply let it thaw at room temperature. It will take about 2-3 hours to defrost completely.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 648IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2mg

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