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Cherry Vanilla Ombre Cake

This cherry vanilla cake is made with soft layers of vanilla cake, filled with homemade black cherry filling and burgundy vanilla buttercream.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Baking, Buttercream, Cake Decorating, Cake Recipe, Cherry
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 1 (3 Layer) 6-inch or (2 Layer) 8-inch round cake
Author Katie


Foolproof Vanilla Cake

  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Vanilla Cake Mix, sifted
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Black Cherry Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups black cherries, pitted, cut in half (about ¾ lbs)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream


Foolproof Vanilla Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray three 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.

  2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk and stir together the cake mix, all-purpose flour, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In the stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, and sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes.

  4. Add eggs, one at a time to the stand mixer bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated.

  5. Turn the mixer on low and add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

  6. Add the vanilla and milk, beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Finish by adding the remaining flour mixture and mix on medium for another 30 seconds.

  7. Evenly distribute the cake batter among the three cake pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.

  8. Remove cakes from oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and place into the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

Black Cherry Filling

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the black cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Continue mixing with a rubber spatula over low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the berries begin to boil.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water. Add cornstarch mixture to the boiling berries and continue to stir with a rubber spatula.

  3. Continue cooking the mixture for 2-3 minutes until it is thickened and coats the back of a spatula.

  4. Pour the cherry filling into a small bowl to cool. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to fully cool.

Vanilla Buttercream

  1. In the stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  2. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add powdered sugar, followed by the cream. Then add vanilla extract and salt. Mix until incorporated completely. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

  3. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the buttercream for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer on low and mix for 2 minutes to push out any air bubbles.

  4. Divide the buttercream in half, keep one-half white for filling and crumb coating. Divide the other half of the buttercream into three bowls. By using red, purple, and brown gel food coloring; color one bowl into bark burgundy, another bowl make a medium shade of burgundy and the last bowl make a light shade burgundy.

  5. Then place each colored buttercreams into prepared piping bags fitted with #844 start tips.


  1. Layer one vanilla cake, cut side up onto cake board. Add a thin layer of vanilla buttercream over the cake and pipe a circle of buttercream around the edges of the cake. Add 1/3 cup of cherry filling inside the ring of buttercream.

  2. Place another cake layer cut side down over the top. Repeat the process for another layer — Crumb coat with white vanilla buttercream and freeze for 30 minutes.

  3. Starting from the bottom, while spinning the cake squeeze consistent pressure on the piping bag with the dark burgundy buttercream piping bag and pipe a row around the cake. Repeat by piping another dark burgundy row above the previous row. Repeat until you have four rows of dark burgundy buttercream.

  4. Repeat the process with the medium burgundy buttercream followed by the light burgundy buttercream.

  5. On the top of the cake, pipe one row with the light burgundy buttercream, followed by two rows of medium burgundy buttercream and two rows of dark burgundy buttercream in the center.

Recipe Notes

  • Food coloring gets darker over time, so it's best to gradually add the food coloring, which is best for lighter colors.  
  • It’s easier to make the dark burgundy color first before adding 2 Tablespoons of the dark buttercream to another bowl of white buttercream to create a medium shade of burgundy. Then take one tablespoon to create a lighter shade of burgundy buttercream. 
  • Make cake layers, buttercream, and cherry filling ahead of time. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month and keep the cherry filling and buttercream in the fridge for up to one week. 
  • Serve cake at room temperature.