Rich, moist, and simply gorgeous — this fresh cherry cake with fresh mint is a show-stopper.
My cherry cake is made with bits of real fruit and herb-infused sugar to create a delightfully fresh flavor. Make it for any special occasion!
This semi-homemade three-layer dessert starts with a white cake mix and a package of cherry gelatin. The batter is infused with mint and dotted with little bits of fruit for a flavor boost and freshness that really sets it apart.
Finish it off with a real cherry buttercream that is perfectly creamy and a gorgeous shade of pink, then top with more fruit and mint leaves for a simple garnish.
If you’ve got an abundance of cherries, try one of my other fabulous dessert recipes or use them in this hot pepper jelly. Craving a different fruit? I have cakes featuring apples, raspberries, or blueberries instead!
Why you’re going to love it!
- Real fruit flavor. Lightly tart and not overly sweet.
- No expertise required. Even beginner bakers can put this together.
- Pretty and pink — no food coloring required!
Fresh Cherry Cake: behind the recipe
While the batter isn’t completely from scratch, the delicious cherry buttercream certainly is. It’s so rich, creamy, and chocked full of real cherry bits — YUM!
Because we have three different mint varieties growing in our backyard, I like to find ways to incorporate it into my recipes. My friend Kathie is an expert gardener and has all kinds of tips for using fresh mint in desserts over at Homespun Seasonal Living.
For this fresh cherry cake, I decided to infuse the mint into the sugar before adding it to the batter. Blending them together allows the flavor to come through without little green bits getting stuck in your teeth.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Fresh cherries — I used Bing, which is the most commonly found variety at grocery stores and farmers markets. When using a different variety, it’s a good idea to taste one or two first to be sure they are sweet enough. Rainier, while popular, will affect the overall color of the frosting.
- Dairy — With baked goods, it’s best to let your dairy ingredients come to room temperature before getting started. Removing the chill from the milk and eggs will create a fluffier texture in the cherry cake, and the butter should be softened to properly whip the cherry buttercream.
- Confectioner’s sugar -— This is the same thing as powdered sugar. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own by blending together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of granulated sugar. Use a food processor or high-speed blender and mix for about 5 minutes or until it no longer feels gritty.
How to make cake with cherry buttercream
STEP 1 | Prep everything first
- Remve the stems from the cherries and give them a good wash. Dry thoroughly before pitting and chopping.
- Toss the mint and granulated sugar into a food processor and blend until no stems or chunks remain.
- Don’t forget to prep your cake pans! Doing it now means the batter can go straight in the oven once mixed.
- After I grease and flour my pans, I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of each. It’s an extra step, but my baked goods never stick!
STEP 2 | Bake the cakes
- Combine everything except the fruit on low in your stand mixer. Once there are no more streaks of flour, add in the cherries and mix again until fully incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool completely before frosting or chill until you are ready to assemble the fresh cherry cake.
STEP 3 | Prepare cherry buttercream
- Whip the softened butter until fluffy and pale in color, then add in the powdered sugar a little at a time.
- Increase the mixer speed to blend in the cherries until it’s nice and creamy.
- Give it a taste before using, and mix in a pinch of salt if you find that it’s too sweet.
STEP 4 | Stack and frost
- Add a dab of the buttercream to the plate or pedestal, then set the bottom layer on top. This helps to hold it in place.
- Scoop some frosting into the center of each layer and spread it out to the edges before adding the next. After all of the layers are stacked, spread the remaining frosting around the outside until smooth.
- Once it’s complete, add garnish to the top and serve!
Tips for frosting a layer cake
- Start with completely cool layers. They should be at least room temperature to avoid any frosting disaster. If time permits, I highly recommend wrapping them in plastic and refrigerating for a few hours first.
- Use an offset spatula. The long, narrow metal blade is perfect for the job because it gives you the best angle and smooths frosting perfectly. Plus, your fingers will stay clean!
- Keep your plate clean. Cardboard rounds are designed specifically for this purpose, but not everyone has them on hand. Instead, gently slide strips of parchment underneath the edges of the first layer. Once the whole thing is frosted, carefully remove them for crisp and clean lines.
- Smooth out the sides. Give your arms a break by turning the plate or pedestal as you work. If you have piping bags, it can help to pipe the frosting in bands around the outside so it’s evenly distributed. Just be sure to cut a wide enough opening so it doesn’t get clogged with fruit.
Frequently asked questions
Because it contains fresh fruit, it should be kept in the refrigerator. Cover with plastic or a domed lid so it doesn’t dry out and enjoy within one week.
You should be fine to assemble your cherry cake the day before and refrigerate before serving or taking it to an event.
Otherwise, I recommend baking the layers up to 3 days in advance and assembling the day of. Store them in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic and make the buttercream fresh for best results.
Put it back in the mixer and add a little bit of water or milk — about ½ tablespoon at a time — until it reaches the right consistency.
First Published: June 15, 2020. Last Updated: May 4 2021
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves and stems
- 1 15.25 oz. box white cake mix
- 1 3-oz. pkg. cherry gelatin
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup fresh cherries, pitted and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Cherry Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 32-oz. pkg. confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9-inch cake pans.
- In the bowl of a mini food processor, combine the mint and sugar. Process until the mint is finely chopped. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the white cake mix, cherry gelatin, eggs, milk, vegetable oil, flour, and mint-sugar mixture. Using an electric mixer, mix on LOW speed until combined, about one minute.
- Fold in the cherries, then increase the mixer speed to MEDIUM and continue beating for 2 minutes.
- Evenly pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 23 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans on a wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the layers from the pans and continue cooling on a wire rack for 1 hour. Frost immediately, or wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or overnight before frosting.
Cherry Buttercream Frosting
- Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar and continue mixing on low speed until combined.
- Add the cherries and increase the mixer speed to medium. Beat until the frosting is the desired consistency, creamy and fluffy.
- Dollop frosting onto the center of the first cake layer and smooth to the edges using an offset spatula. Add the second layer and repeat.
- Top with the last cake layer. Dollop more frosting on top, smoothing to the edges, then spread frosting on the sides until completely covered. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Store cake covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 624Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 54mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 1gSugar: 88gProtein: 4g
Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Home Cook, Wife, Mom, Nana
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.