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Laurie Colwin, cook, food writer and novelist, felt that a picnic was a good excuse to eat a whole bag of potato chips all by yourself.  Besides expressing an understandable fondness for potato chips, her point is that picnics are occasions for eating in ways out of the ordinary. They have their own rhyme and reason and shouldn’t be an outdoor replica of an indoor menu.  Picnic food is eclectic.  The only real requirement for admission besides how it tastes is that the food be a good traveler.

Sour Cherry Cake is not fragile.  It is made from a swift little recipe that will give you a fine result the first time…and every time–unless, one bakes with such  winged speed that the batter goes in the oven before the flour has been added.  Even then the mistake may be undone on a second try with remarkable ease.

And while you wait for this delicious cake to bake, you can relax, download a video of Neal Diamond singing Cherry, Cherry…and dance.

Nena’s Croatian Sour Cherry Cake (for a 10-inch round cake)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF


  • 1 cup of plain Yoghurt
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Vegetable Oil
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 package of Vanilla Sugar or 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 4 Eggs, separated
  • a 15-ounce can of Sour Cherries, drained or a 350-gram can of Sour Cherries, drained:  Can sizes vary from country to country.  The measure of cherries doesn’t have to be exact–about 1 cup is sufficient.
  • a little Butter and Flour for preparing the cake pan
  • Optional:  Whipped Cream to serve with the cake; since it is included in the Menu:  Into the Picnic Basket, the whipped cream isn’t used and doesn’t appear in the photos.  Without it, the cake is still excellent.


  • a Springform Cake Pan, measuring 10-inches across the bottom, buttered and floured and lined with Parchment Paper:  This is the pan used to make the photographed cake.  It is a convenient one for transporting it.  A rectangular pan might also be used–although the diplomatickitchen hasn’t tried it.
  • a piece of Parchment Paper, cut to fit the bottom of the pan
  • 3 Bowls
  • a Mixer, standing or hand
  • a cooling rack

1.  Butter and flour the cake pan and line it with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2.  Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl.

3.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a second bowl.

4.  Add the yoghurt to the egg and sugar and beat some more.

5.  After the yoghurt is mixed in, add the oil and vanilla and beat again.

6.  Stir in the dry ingredients:

7.  Beat the egg whites until they hold peaks and stay where they are when the bowl is turned upside down.

8.  Fold the egg whites into the batter and pour the batter into the pan.

9.  Bake the cake for 5 minutes in the 400 F. oven.  At the end of 5 minutes, carefully slide the cake out on the oven rack.  Don’t remove it from the rack.  Place the cherries around on the surface of the cake and slide it back into the oven.  Bake it for 30 minutes more.  (Putting the fruit on the cake as it sits on the oven rack is a way of keeping the rising batter from sinking.

10.  Cool the cake in the pan.  Leave it there if it is going to a picnic and slip the springform ring off it in situ before slicing it.

A Variation:

1.  Make some Ground Walnuts and Sugar, by toasting some walnuts in a dry pan, grinding them in a food processor and mixing them with some sugar.  Photos and steps for Sugared Ground Walnuts are here in a previous diplomatickitchen recipe.

2.  Peel and slice thinly a few apples.  (Three were used for the photographed cake).  Mix the slices with a Tablespoon or so of lemon juice.

3.  Mix the cake batter, and, after 5 minutes of baking, arrange concentric slices of apple over the top and sprinkle them with sugared ground walnuts.  As for the Sour Cherry Cake, bake 30 more minutes.

A Note:  Nena’s Croatian Sour Cherry Cake is in the basket of the Occasional Menu:  Into the Picnic Basket.

An Acknowledgement:  Croatian Sour Cherry Cake is a recipe by Nena Scott.  Like this cake, Nena is a good traveler and for almost thirty years has been making temporary homes all over the world.  Presently, she is living in Milan, Italy, where her husband is the U.S. Consul General.   Nena knows how to cook and knows how to make a large  party of dozens of guests feel individually welcome and happy to have been invited to her home.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012