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08 Jun 2023

Irina Georgescu’s cherry and basil sour cream cake

Irina Georgescu’s cherry and basil sour cream cake

I consider this to be a seasonal cake, mainly because people start baking it when the cherry and sour cherry season starts in early June, and stop when the damson and plum season ends in late October. The most popular one is made with sour cherries, although you’ll also find it prepared not only with apricots and peaches, but also with rhubarb and soft fruit. This is an exceptional cake, the best of its kind among yoghurt cakes in Romania. 

The use of basil is a personal recommendation, since this herb plays a role in many traditions in the Romanian countryside — and it should do the same in cookery. However, you can leave it out completely, or just sprinkle a little on top before serving. 

Serves: 6-8
Takes: 50 mins 


3 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing 
3 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
150g golden caster sugar 
100g sour cream 
1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp almond extract
150g plain flour 
½ tsp baking powder 

To decorate 
180g cherries, pitted  
1 tbsp basil, chopped 
1 tbsp golden caster sugar 

To finish  
icing sugar, for dusting  
1 tsp basil, chopped 


  1. Heat oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4. Grease and line a 18 x 24 x 6cm baking tin with baking paper.  

  2. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a large bowl, then add the sugar little by little until the peaks are firm and hold their shape. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.  

  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, sour cream, lemon zest and juice, and almond extract, then whisk it into the cake batter. Sift in the flour and baking powder, folding gently.  

  4. Just before you’re ready to bake the cake, toss the cherries and basil with the sugar. Pour the batter into the baking tin and add the cherries on top, pressing them slightly into the batter. Bake for 35 mins.  

  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins. Peel off the baking paper and transfer to a cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar and sprinkle with the chopped basil, then cut into 6-8 large slices.  


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