Sour Cherry Cake

 "Make a choice. Take a step. Make a choice. Take a step. It's a rhythm of life. You may not get your answer until you make the choice and take the step."
- Hannah Brencher, Come Matter Here
I have written and re-written the body of this post several times. Thing is, as much as I intended to wonder about why we no longer swap recipes with each other (okay, outside of the food-blogging world), what wants to come out is something different. What wants to come out is a confession. So I'm going to confess it to you guys here, in hopes that if you're feeling something similar, you'll realize you're not the only one. Here it goes:

I'm really scared of succeeding.

On first glance that looks stupid. On second glance it looks egotistical. On third glance, I realize it's one of the truest things I can say about this stage of my life. There is a lot going on right now in terms of jobs, opportunities, dreams, plans. I like to talk a lot about defying comfort zones and the status quo, about going for your big dreams, and never looking back. But walking that out?

Recent events have taught me that there is a tipping point in my heart when things start gaining their own momentum. When I'm pushing the full weight of this thing from behind and it is barely budging, I feel safe and supported by its stubborn bulk. But the moment an opportunity starts letting me know that it's time? That's when a huge wave of fear and second guessing surfs in. I get quiet and pensive and I don't want it to see me. I don't want to have the care and keeping of something so big. I waffle back and forth between excitement and terror. Every time they want an interview, or a second interview, or I have another kind of opportunity that I've waited a long while for, there is the initial rush of high glee, followed moments later by a crash of anxious thought. What if I can't do it? What if I get three months into it and can't do it?
"We go through it too. There is something inside us that rises up and begs to hold on to what we know, to what is most familiar to us. We try to resist change. We look for people to be our lifeboats. We look to fear in the hope that it will keep us safe. We hate the fact that darkness could be good for us. We all want the chance to be gold, but we don't want the fire."
- Hannah Brencher, Come Matter Here

For a while this tendency to shrink away baffled me before I finally realized something: I'm not afraid of dreaming, or of pursuing those dreams. I am afraid of those dreams pursuing me. See, if a dream never comes to fruition, oh well - there are plenty more where that came from. But when a dream starts blossoming into reality, if I don't do a good job, if I let that person or those people down, that one's on me. The responsibility of using opportunities well and wisely is on my shoulders. I'm afraid of succeeding and what that means: being responsible for something that needs my full heart and focus and nobody else to shuffle it onto while I move on to a new project.
"Wherever you're going, tell yourself it'll be good. Whoever you're going to turn into, tell yourself that person will be good too. Do your best to usher in hope where fear wants to stand. This is a turning point, whether you see it or not yet. It's a chance to occupy new space."
- Hannah Brencher, Come Matter Here
I recently finished reading Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. I've been following the evolution of HB's newest book ever since she first announced the topic a couple years ago. I thought I needed it then, but it's funny how things work out: I actually needed her words on fear and courage and staying now. Her book has served as a sort of spotlight as I walk this road into the unknown. My copy is crisscrossed with notes and underlined prayers. And while I don't identify with her season of deep depression, I do align myself with the keen longing to do something that matters and the fear of it succeeding and needing me. Her words are like a vein of sunlight touching here and there on the timid corners of my heart and calling me out to greater courage.
"I learn that the building of trust happens in the dark. It happens when we choose not to hide but to charge toward the stuff that scares us most. We figure out what we are holding tightly to, what truly matters, and what we must release to get to the other side, safe and sane."
- Hannah Brencher, Come Matter Here
"Keep going when you crush your dreams with the weight of your own expectations."
- Hannah Brencher, ComeMatter Here
Somehow this cake is a comfort. My sister brought the recipe home with her from Romania and when I tasted the lemon-infused cake with the tart-sweet punches of fresh cherries spiraling through, it took me right back to standing on a Romanian roadside eating squares of this same cake out of foil packets. That Rachel from simpler times and bolder places. That Rachel who would've looked at the chances in front of her and thought, "Meh, what the heck. Let's do it." Here's to that Rachel. Here's to the boldness to take up new space and the courage to stay.

Sour Cherry Cake
serves 12

6 1/3 tablespoons of butter, melted
300 g. all purpose flour
200 g. sugar
10 g. baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 eggs
200 g. Greek yogurt
1 lemon, for zest
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
300 g. sour cherries, pitted

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. In another, smaller bowl mix together wet ingredients.
  2. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour into a 9x13" glass cake pan greased and lined with parchment paper and spread evenly. Toss cherries with 1 tablespoon of flour and stir to coat. Place cherries in a single layer on top of the cake batter. Finish with a sprinkling of coarse sugar - I used Swedish pearl sugar I had in my pantry but any type of coarse sugar will do.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool, remove cake and parchment paper from pan, and slice into squares.


  1. Rachel, thank you so much for sharing this! I always love how honest you are. And I sympathize so much with your fear. Especially right now! Definitely adding Hannah Brencher’s book to my reading list. 💕

  2. Hi, you know I am here for you and your cake. Also, literally one of my biggest fears is that I will be successful. How will I get there? How do I get there? Will I ever recognize that I have been successful? What if I am not? Anyway, this is NOT helpful at all, but you are so, so note alone.

    The Adored Life