VERY Cherry Cake

Southerners know there's no such thing as a bad cake, especially if a trusted friend sends you a new recipe. That's why Mom and I had to try it even though we'd declared "new diet status" after the trusted friend Joyce, Mom and I had enjoyed lunch at Lady & Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant in downtown Savannah. How could we not enjoy the southern buffet since we were there? So our diet commitment lasted until Joyce shared Paula Deen's cherry cake recipe.

This cake is perfect for Easter, Valentine's Day, July 4th, or any time of the year. Y'all are sure to enjoy every scrumptious bite. Thanks Paula for a winner, just in time for Easter and all of the spring and summer events.

So "shugah" make this cake and sit a spell. There's no time like the present.

Very Cherry Cake

1 cup butter, softened

1 3⁄4 cups sugar

2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour

2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole buttermilk

5 egg whites, beaten until stiff

1 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries

Cream Cheese-Cherry Frosting (*recipe follows)

Garnish: maraschino cherries

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 3 (9-inch) baking pans with nonstick baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add cherry juice and vanilla, beating until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until combined after each addition. Gently fold in beaten egg whites until mixture is smooth. Gently stir in maraschino cherries.

Spoon the batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese-Cherry Frosting evenly in between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Garnish with maraschino cherries, if desired.

Cream Cheese-Cherry Frosting

Makes about 4 1⁄2 cups

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3⁄4 cup butter, softened

1⁄4 cup maraschino cherry juice

6 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Slowly beat in cherry juice until mixture is smooth. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.