You never know where you will be when inspiration strikes, and that’s how I felt – struck – standing beside the faded wooden table at a farm stand in upstate New York, looking at the shiny red clusters of sour cherries.
Immediately I was reminded of a summer spent in Kiev, Ukraine, and out of all the delicious dishes I tasted there, one recipe came to mind.
I traveled to the Ukraine to meet a good friend of mine. We had been in contact for over a year, but before that moment had never spoken face to face – I lived in America, he lived in the Ukraine.
In the time I spent there, he opened up his life to me, showing me the intricate differences and similarities of a world so foreign, so fascinating, so enchanting: a world I had hitherto known only through his words and photos.
On my third day there, I was invited back to his home where his mother had cooked us a stunningly delicious and intimidatingly large meal of Ukrainian classics: borscht and pan-fried potatoes, dark bread and sliced meats, chicken cutlets and mugs of steaming tea despite heat in the mid-eighties.
We gathered around a small kitchen table decorated with a brightly patterned tablecloth: my friend, myself, his mother, and my father who, tattooed and over six foot, couldn’t get his knees under the table and had to eat his lunch sitting sidesaddle. There, the East Coast met Eastern Europe, and the deal was sealed with multiple slices of what was the most perfectly delicious cake we had ever eaten: Anna’s sour cherry shortcake.
This recipe is not technically Candida Diet (owing in most part to the large amount of dairy) but it is a grain-free and sugar-free adaptation of a traditional Ukrainian cake, and owing to the overlap in online blogging communities I figured this delicious recipe was worth sharing.
The mellow nuttiness of the almond flour offsets the bold and bright flavor of the cherries, while the sweetness and velvety creaminess of the icing integrates and smooths the tartness of the fruit, making for a taste that is refreshing and summery, sweet but not overly so.
I kept my recipe as close to the original flavors as possible, and preferred to emphasize the fruit’s natural tartness, so feel free to sweeten the icing to your own taste.
I recommend letting the finished cake sit in the fridge for an hour before serving. This will help the flavors develop and will make the cake easier to cut and portion onto plates.
This recipe makes a full-sized, double-layer cake. I baked it on the occasion of relatives coming into town and it yielded about twelve servings, with slices about 1-inch wide. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator up to five days.
For the filling:
2 qt. fresh sour or tart cherries, pitted and halved
For the cake:
4 ½ cups almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. Truevia brand stevia
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. liquid stevia (I used Nustevia brand)
4 tbsp. sour cream or nonfat plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
For the icing:
5 oz. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
16 oz. sour cream
4 ½ tsp. Truevia brand stevia (or to taste)
In a medium sized saucepan, cook the pitted and halved cherries over low heat until their natural juice reduces. The cherries should retain most of their color and shape. Depending on the size of your saucepan and the character of your cherries, the time this takes may vary. Err on the side of cooking it for less time rather than more, keeping in mind they will continue to cook in the oven.
Remove the cherries from the heat and set aside. At this point, you can sweeten the cherry mixture if desired, but traditionally they are left with a hint of their natural tartness.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and the sour cream. You can use a higher ratio of yogurt to sour cream if you wish, as yogurt contains natural probiotics that aid the immune system and help fight inflammation from candida and other sources, but be aware this will affect the flavor of the icing.
Set aside 4 tablespoons of this mixture for the cake dough. Sweeten the remaining mixture with Truevia. Stir to integrate the Truevia, then cover the icing and store it in the refrigerator to keep it cool while you work on the dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond and coconut flours with salt, baking soda, and Truevia. Stir to combine the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to this mixture: the softened butter, two eggs, two egg yolks, vanilla, cider vinegar, liquid stevia, and sour cream mixture. Cream ingredients together with a fork or spatula until they are evenly combined and integrated into a thick dough.
Grease two 9 ½ inch pie pans well – bottoms and sides.
Place about half of the dough into each pie pan. Flatten and spread the dough with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom and sides.
In each pan, use your fingers to shape a pit in the dough – the pit should be about an inch deep, and a wall of dough about 1 to ½-inches thick should be left at the sides of the pie pan (see reference photo left).
This pit forms the reservoir for the cherry filling, which bakes with the dough. Make sure the dough at the sides is of even thickness all around to avoid any unequal baking.
Once the dough has been shaped, add your cherries into one of the pie pans. Perforate the bottom of the unfilled dough with a fork.
Place the two prepared pie pans into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the pans from the oven and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Once they have cooled, spoon a little less than half of the icing mixture over the baked cherries. If there are any remaining cherries that did not fit into the dough before baking, you can pile them on top here (as shown above).
Carefully remove the unfilled cake from its pan and place this on top of the filled cake, forming a double-layered cake with the filling sandwiched in between.
Dollop the remaining icing mixture on top and smooth it evenly to the edges of the cake with a spatula, allowing it to spill over the sides. Garnish or decorate the cake as desired, then set it in the refrigerator to cool.
As they say at mealtime in the Ukraine - Смачного (Smachnoho)!