Taste of Romania -- Prajitura cu Visine

My first attempt at making a Romanian dessert was a simple cherry cake for my best Romanian friend. It's really just a sponge cake with cherries on top, but it was pretty tasty. Just for kicks, I also made a little corner with blueberries instead of cherries. The cherry part was better. I found the recipe on a great food blog called Transylvanian Kitchen, and plan to use more of their recipes to hone my Romanibaking skills in the near future.

I halved the recipe and made it in what I think is about a 9" x 9" square pan, so I'm guessing the whole recipe would probably be right for a 9" x 13" cake pan. The most fun part of baking cross-culturally is doing all those metric conversions that my fifth-grade self never thought she would use "in real life." So if any of these amounts look strange to you, that's because they were converted from nice, simple metric numbers. (Are you reading my contempt for U.S. measurement systems here?) If you try this and it turns out horribly, you're free to blame it on my inability to do simple math using a calculator!

About the cherries: I used sour cherries. Regardless of which you use -- and maybe this seems obvious -- you need to remove the pits. That's pretty messy, so just embrace the juiciness and make sure you do this over the sink. If you have fresh cherries, great, but here we use fruit from a can or jar in light syrup. We also drink the syrup. Be Romanian for 5 minutes and try it. Sour cherry juice tastes something like slurping the syrup from the bottom of your sno-cone. Are you convinced yet?

Sour cherries in light syrup... YUM

Prajitura (Say pruh-jzhee-TOO-ruh)

6 eggs
4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 can/small jar of cherries, sweet or tart (but NOT maraschino!)

Pit cherries and leave to drain in a strainer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Separate the egg whites and yolks. Mix the yolks with half of the sugar, then a little at a time add oil and then milk. Add baking powder and flour, which will make a thick batter.

Beat egg whites with the vanilla and the other half of the sugar, then add to the rest of the batter. Pour into a greased and floured pan (or covered with baking paper). Cover the top with pitted cherries. I was too conservative with my cherries -- you can judge by your own tastes, but just know that this is where the flavor really comes from. You want lots of juicy cherry goodness in every bite. The cherries should be touching.

Needs more fruit!
Bake at 350 F until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar.

Pofta buna!