Cherry Carnival

This recipe is based upon one found in Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. I could not find the year of publication, but it was my grandmother’s cookbook and she was born in 1914. This is a quick and easy dessert to make, if you have the cherries on-hand, which I always try to do. I’ve been reading a bit of back-and-forth online about butter vs. margarine vs. shortening and I don’t know what to think. When I see a recipe calling for margarine I always use butter, but when I see a recipe calling for shortening, I use vegetable shortening, like Crisco. All of that is to say that it’s possible that this recipe can be changed for the better, but I have only tried it the way described here.


This is not cherry pie filling! It is a can of tart cherries, packed in water. I imagine you could use fresh or frozen pitted cherries and crush them a bit to get the required amount of juice for the sauce. Or simply forego the sauce and eat cake!

Cherry Carnival

1-3/4 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

¾ cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 14.5-oz. can pitted sour (red tart or pie) cherries

½ cup chopped walnuts

Stir flour, baking powder and salt together in bowl. Add shortening, sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla. Drain the can of cherries, but save the  juice into a liquid measure (you should get about ¾ cup-good!) and set aside. Add cherries and walnuts to batter and stir until well mixed. Pour into greased 9” square pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot with hot Clear Red Sauce (below).

Clear Red Sauce

½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

¾ cup juice, drained from can of cherries

1 cup water

¼ tsp. almond flavoring

3 drops red food coloring (optional)

In saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in juice and water. Stir constantly over medium heat, let boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add almond flavoring and red food coloring. Serve hot over Cherry Cake.


Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. The sauce is easily re-heated in the microwave. I always end up with too much sauce because people eat the leftover cake for breakfast and they don’t bother putting sauce on it.