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Cherry Layer Cake

This cherry cake is the perfect summer cake! It's filled with a delicious cherry buttercream, and decorated with loads of fresh cherries.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Cherry Cake, Cherry layer cake
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 30


Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe

  • 4.75 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 3.75 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1.5 cups egg whites, room temp (about 11 egg whites)
  • 2.25 cups buttermilk, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 0.25 cups vegetable oil

American Buttercream Recipe

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, room temp (6 sticks)
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 0.33 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 0.5 cups cherry preserves (to be added to only 1/5 of the frosting)

Additional Ingredients

  • 3 drops red gel food coloring
  • 3 drops yellow gel food coloring
  • 1 Tbsp vodka
  • 1.5 lbs cherries


Begin by making the vanilla cake layers.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 8-inch, and 3 six inch round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

  3. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

  4. Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Mix in a couple squirts of yellow gel food coloring, to create a light yellow batter.

  5. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. For this cake, you want to make sure the layers in each tier have the same amount of batter. This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.

  6. Bake the 6 inch cake layers of 30-32 minutes, and the 8 inch layers for 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

While the layers bake and cool, make the frosting.

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.

  2. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 

  3. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

  4. Place 2 cups of frosting into a separate bowl, and mix in the cherry preserves. 

  5. Fill one large piping bag (18 inch) with some of the remaining white buttercream. This will be used to pipe a dam around the cherry frosting.

Once the layers are fully cooled, assemble the cake.

  1. Begin by building the bottom, 8-inch tier. Secure one 8 inch cake layer to a 10 inch, grease proof cake board using a dab of buttercream.

  2. Pipe a dam of vanilla buttercream around the edge of the 8 inch cake layer, and add a large scoop of cherry buttercream inside this. Smooth the cherry frosting to the edge of the vanilla buttercream.

  3. Repeat with the next 8-inch cake layer, then top with the last 8 inch cake layer. Flip the layer upside down to make it easier to frost.

  4. Cover in a thin crumb coat, then chill in the freezer for 5 minutes, until the frosting is firm to the touch.

  5. Repeat this process with the 6-inch cake layers, building the tier on a 6 inch cake board.

  6. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to both tiers, and smooth using a bench scrapper.

  7. Insert 4 supports into the bottom tier (I use thick bubble tea straws)

  8. Chill layers in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  9. In two separate, small containers, mix together the gel food coloring with a splash of vodka. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can also use lemon extract or water! The alcohol just helps the paint dry faster.

  10. Once the frosting is thoroughly chilled, paint red and yellow streaks on the side of the cake. Start at the base, and gently pull up, to create fading brush strokes.

  11. Carefully stack the tiers, then add cherries around the base of both tiers, and a few to the very top of the cake.

Recipe Notes

If you don't want to make a tiered cake, you can definitely half the recipe, and make three 7 or 8 inch cake layers.