Ground Cherry Torte

This easy cake recipe uses ground cherries aka husk cherries aka gooseberries! It's dense and moist and absolutely delicious.

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I came back from Italy to find my garden looking a bit worse for the wear. Even though I had friends and family members come over to water it and pick tomatoes while I was gone, parasitic insects took over, plants went to seed and weeds grew out of control. Coupled with the 50mph winds we had from the noreaster / hurricane Joaquin combo over the weekend, it's safe to say my growing efforts are just about done for the season. 

It's bittersweet. I love nothing more than picking fresh fruits, veggies and herbs from my garden and bringing them in to cook with, but gardening is a lot of work, and I'm looking forward to getting some of that time back in my day. Well, after I'm done cleaning up this mess of a yard anyway.Husk cherries strewn over a wooden table top.
One of my favorite recent gardening discoveries are these little guys... which go by different names depending who you ask. I bought this plant as a "pineapple tomatillo" last year, and it has since multiplied in my garden like crazy. I'm sure there are different varieties, but the more common names for the little husked berries are both "ground cherries" or "husk cherries". They're very similar to, although slightly smaller than the cape gooseberry, and are (maybe obviously?) part of the tomatillo family.

While this year resulted in what I thought would be a huge harvest, I found many of the fruits to be lacking in both color, flavor and texture. In fact, some of them seemed to either rot on the vine or never completely form in the first place, leaving behind these sad, deceiving empty husks. What was a favorite snack of ours last summer seemed a bit less enjoyable this year, lacking the super sweet tropical flavor that once was. This was the trend for not just the tomatillos, but my tomatoes seemed less sweet and flavorful than usual too. Anyone have any idea as to why? Skinned husk cherries in a pan.Ground husk cherry tart on a wood cutting board.
The silver lining to this, however, is that when cooked, the little husk cherries intensify in both sweetness and flavor. I stole this torte recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who apparently stole it from a lot of different places, because it's apparently pretty famous. So I guess no one is really stealing anything at all, just sharing the love that is delicious fruit filled cake.

I'm all about this cake because it's the sort of not-too-sweet dessert that can be acceptably eaten for breakfast, or well, any time of day really. In fact, to my delight, fruit filled cakes just like this were found on the breakfast table quite frequently during our stay in Italy. Italians are so smart. Don't you always want to start your day with cake? Of course you do.
Top view of ground cherry torte on a wood board.
A slice of husk cherry tart on a silver plate with a fork,
The original recipe calls for plums, and that's precisely how I made it the first time. The sweet/tart plums nestle so beautifully into the dense, almost sticky cake, and provide the perfect contrast of flavors and textures. It's an absolute knock-out. I say this, because I'm guessing you don't have a bushel of freshly picked husk cherries at your disposal. But you might have plums, and if you do, I insist you go ahead and make the cake with them. Seriously.

But if you do have access to husk cherries, give this version a try. It's certainly more unique, but when the husk cherries cook down, they almost resemble raisins in their flavor and texture. Did that just turn you off completely? I don't know too many raisin lovers in my life, but I know a lot of people who despise them. I'm doing an excellent job of selling this, aren't I?

Bottom line, it's the cake in this recipe that's the real star. Give it a try with husk cherries, plums, peaches, apples, pears or anything else you think might fit. You never know what might surprise you and become your new favorite breakfast... I mean dessert. Close up of a husk cherry tart with a slice missing.Top view of a triangle slice of husk cherry torte on a silver plate next to a fork,

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Close up of a husk cherry tart with a slice missing.
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Ground Cherry Torte

This easy cake recipe uses ground cherries aka husk cherries aka gooseberries! It's dense and moist and absolutely delicious.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 304kcal


  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups husk/ground cherries or Cape gooseberries husked and washed
  • OR 3 cups of your favorite in-season fruit halved or quartered depending on size
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. You can use an electric mixer, but I find a wooden spoon and a little elbow grease to the job just fine. Add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix until just combined.
  2. Spread the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Combine the husk cherries,1 tablespoon sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl, then pour over top. Use the back of a spoon or your fingers to gently press the fruit into the batter.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (of batter, that is, fruit pulp is cool. ) Allow the cake to cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes prior to cutting. Serve warm. The cake is also excellent served cold after chilling in the fridge overnight.


Calories: 304kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 216mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg

GROUND CHERRY TORTE | This easy cake recipe uses ground cherries aka husk cherries or gooseberries! It's dense and moist and absolutely delicious #easy #groundcherries #gooseberries #cake #recipe |

5 from 11 votes

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  1. 5 stars
    I’d never cooked ground cherries before, only sort of like them raw, but we had a whole lot from our CSA so I decided to give this recipe a whirl to use them up.
    So easy to make, delightfully light in texture, and I love that you can adapt the recipe to different versions just by changing the fruit.
    I only had 2 cups of cherries but felt that was an adequate quota for the recipe

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and so very easy to make with the ground cherries from our garden. We substitute gluten free flour mix 1:1 and the results are scrumptious.

  3. 5 stars
    I can't even believe how good this is. I ended up with so many ground cherries in my garden and had no idea what to do with them. I can't wait to try this recipe with whatever fruit is in season.

  4. 5 stars
    End of gardening season with ground cherries in the ground and no plan. They were planted thinking they were tomatillos. Sigh. With the remaining few cherries already on the ground, I decided to try this recipe. We’ were a cup short on cherries so diced in apple. Made using Bob’s gluten-free flour, ghee, and coconut sugar in a 10in springform. Looks and smells great. Somewhat darker b/c of coconut sugar. Thanks for the change of pace.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi, I was just taking a look at your site and submitted this message via your feedback form. The feedback page on your site sends you these messages via email which is the reason you're reading through my message right now correct? That's the most important accomplishment with any type of online ad, getting people to actually READ your message and this is exactly what you're doing now! If you have something you would like to promote to lots of websites via their contact forms in the US or anywhere in the world send me a quick note now, I can even focus on your required niches and my prices are super reasonable. Write an email to:

  6. 5 stars
    THIS IS DELICIOUS! I found Ground Cherries at our Farmers Market with my dad, who hasn't had them in years. I've made this several times already and passed on your recipe. Thank You!!

    1. Fantastic!! I'm so happy to hear. My ground cherries didn't do so hot this year, so no torte for me. Actually, that's not true, I just made it with other fruit. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  7. 5 stars
    I have been looking for a good ground cherry cake recipe. I have about 7 plants in my backyard and they have been going nuts for the past few weeks. My kids (and my neighbors) Looooooved this cake! I'm about to make another one this evening 🙂

    1. Oh, I'm so glad!! Thanks for commenting. Once those babies start producing, they just don't seem to stop! Hope you've had a great gardening season. 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    I live down the street from you and had the same problem with my tomatoes. There was an article in the Press back in Aug. that said it was caused by too much rain in June & July. So much rain packed the soil so tight around the roots is what caused the problem. We enjoy your website and your recipes. Our fav so for is the sweet potato hash.

    1. Thanks, Don! That's so interesting. I don't recall June and July being unusually rainy, but it makes sense. I'm so glad you enjoy my recipes, and especially the sweet potato hash!!

      1. 5 stars
        Delicious both times I've made it. Mine needed extra baking time. . With fresh ground cherries I bake 65 minutes and it is perfect. Wonderful caramel flavor.. Can I make this with frozen cherries or should I thaw them?

        1. Glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I would use the frozen cherries without thawing, it just may take a bit longer to bake.

    2. 5 stars
      So happy to find a recipe with these sweet pineapple flavors tasties. I was just writting that a possible reason for the lack of flavor is overwatering. It often is the cause of diluted flavor in tomatoes.