Summer desserts are a staple for any languid late-July dinner—so let Peter Som provide the perfect one. The lifestyle expert and fashion designer (twice nominated for a CFDA award) has been spending his summer refining the recipes for his favorite warm-weather sweet treats from his idyllic Sag Harbor home.
And one in particular: a Cherry Brown Butter Spoon Cake. A classic American confection with origins in the South, it’s known as an easy yet delicious culinary offering that highlights the best produce the season has to offer. “It’s a simple batter that’s studded with the cherries—if you don’t have cherries feel free to use peach slices, or berries—[then] baked,” Som explains. “The cake is super tender and rich, the fruit is caramelized and has given off its juices—and it’s served in the baking dish. That’s it! No stress about turning it out of a pan, frosting, or anything. Simply spooned into bowls and served with ice cream, it’s really the comfort and happiness of summer by the spoonful.”
Som says he’s made it over and over again—especially since it doesn’t require that much baking or prep time. “For me, the last thing I want to do when it’s beautiful outside is be in the kitchen, so I’m always looking for recipes for entertaining that are done in a flash but full of summery bright flavor, so I can spend more time poolside with friends and loved ones.”
Below, Som’s Cherry Brown Butter Spoon Cake—one of the summer desserts you’ll surely be making in July and Augusts to come.
Cherry Brown Butter Spoon Cake
- 1 stick unsalted European-style butter, plus more for pan
- 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- ¾ cup light brown sugar (packed), divided
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp turbinado sugar
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 F and grease an 8” cake pan or a 2-quart baking dish with butter and set aside.
- In a small pot melt butter over medium heat until nutty, golden brown, and fragrant, approximately 3-5 minutes. Pour into a large bowl and let cool.
- Add cherries to a medium bowl and add cornstarch, ¼ cup brown sugar, and coriander. Toss to coat, using a spoon to break some of the cherries in half. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally until the cherries have released some of their juices.
- To the cooled butter, whisk in milk, vanilla extract, egg, lemon zest, orange zest, and remaining brown sugar until smooth. Then add flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk until just combined and the batter is smooth and thick.
- Pour batter into the prepared dish (it won’t look like a lot of batter, but don’t worry) then spoon berries (along with their juices) onto the batter. Sprinkle turbinado sugar atop, more so on the exposed dough.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then spoon into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.