After World War Two, German immigrants brought this quick summer dessert to orchard country. The unique pan shape and sturdy cake base provide the ideal foil for any glazed fruit.
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Preheat oven to 350°F.
Generously butter and flour an 11-inch (28cm) diameter torte pan, or use a baking spray to ensure easy release. Using a standing or hand mixer, whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Sift flour and baking powder together, then whisk into the batter until no white streaks remain. Smooth the batter evenly into the pan, taking care to avoid air bubbles in the perimeter. Bake for 30 minutes, cool for 5 more minutes and invert cake onto a cookie sheet to cool before filling. Can be made a day or two ahead.
Prepping the Filling
Shake the sugar and Instant Clear Jel together in a 1-2 cup lidded jar until thoroughly mixed. Add the cranberry juice, shake to combine and set aside (If glaze is too thin, heat briefly in microwave). Wash, stem, and pit cherries. (Use a soda straw if you do not have a cherry pitter.)
Smooth about three-fourths of the glaze over the cake base. Arrange whole, pitted cherries on their sides in a circular pattern until cake is covered. Drizzle the remaining glaze atop the fruit: the acidity of the cranberry juice will prevent the cherries from turning brown. Serve within the day, whipping cream is optional!
*Instant Clear Jel is made from waxy maize and can be found in bulk food stores, online, and in baking supply shops. It thickens without heat—well worth the hunt to find this versatile ingredient. It can be substituted with regular corn starch or tapioca; however you must bring the glaze to a boil first and then cool it before using.