Lemon Cherry Coffee Cake

June 21, 2016

If you're going to do anything other than eat those cherries fresh, it should be making this Lemon Cherry Coffee Cake recipe | One Hungry Mama

Strawberries get all the glory this time of year, but cherries are finally in season too. While I often have a hard time cooking summer fruit (because hello fresh!), cherries are one of the few that I love just as much cooked as I do plucked right from the tree. I love it all: poached cherries, cherry pie, more cherry piecherry crisp, cherry muffins, and this cherry coffee cake for breakfast.

Yea, you read right. Breakfast, baby.

I love the way that cherry pairs with lemon and, in the winter, make this treat using Meyer lemons. Regular lemons work great too, and if you’re lucky enough to live someplace where you can pluck a lemon off of a tree in your yard, all the better. (And I’m jealous of you.)


A cake that's as good at breakfast as it is at dessert: Lemon Cherry Coffee Cake | One Hungry Mama

A funny thing happened as I was developing this recipe. I was moving faster than usual and went on autopilot. I combined the dry ingredients and then the wet: the milk and lemon juice. As I set the wet ingredients aside, I realized that I’d started the process of making clabbered milk, aka homemade buttermilk.

I was annoyed at first, thinking that I had to start over since the idea was for the lemon juice to lend, well, lemon flavor. But wait! Now I was making a coffee cake with buttermilk and this is never a bad thing. The buttermilk would help yield a great, moist crumb and I’d add more lemon juice—and lemon zest, too, because why not—to the batter to give that lemon flavor I was going for.

My plan worked. This cake is heavenly: moist and buttery, spiked with bright lemon flavor and dotted with sweet, cinnamon crumble coated cherries. Perfect. Especially for breakfast.

Lemon Cherry Coffee Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake, serves 6-8

Can be shared with kids 10+ months


    For the cake:
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, ideally at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • For the crumb topping:
  • 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. To prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9" baking pan; set aside. Whisk together milk and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and set aside to curdle; this is your clabbered milk.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and zest until well combined.
  4. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Now add the clabbered milk and, again, mix until just combined. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix until the batter comes together and pour it into the prepared pan. Scatter cherries over the top.
  5. Make the crumble topping: Put the butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Work the ingredients with your hands until they are well combined and turn into a crumble. Scatter the topping over the cherries.
  6. Bake cake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring the cake to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Though there is nothing in this cake that is unsafe for younger kids, I recommend it for eaters 10+ months due to the relatively high sugar content. No matter how old your eaters, be sure to serve age appropriate portions. A little of this sweet treat goes a long way for wee ones.

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