Ukrainian Cherry Bars (Chereshnyanyk)


I’ve written a bit about my Mum’s side of the family (the mostly English-Scottish-Danish tradition), but I’ve also been exploring another part of my heritage. My Dad’s Mom (Baba Christine) was born in Canada to Ukrainian immigrants. They owned a wheat farm in Manitoba. My Baba Christine wasn’t someone I grew to know in the same everyday family way of my other Gran. I don’t really know why. When she came to the U.S. she met my Grandfather Karlyle while he was shearing sheep and she was working as a cook on a sheep ranch in Colorado. I’ve heard that my Grandfather’s sisters made fun of her accent and language so she changed her name and never passed the language or customs on to her children- I think that is a shame. I would have loved to have at least some part of that colorful heritage from her.


Karlyle and Christine my paternal grandparents

My Dad talks about the Canadian-Ukrainian relatives now and then and I’ve met my Grandma’s brother Alec, who is an inventor. I think most of her family live in Alberta now and the wheat farm must be long gone. When she married my Grandfather they settled in Southern Utah (where his family came from) and raised four boys. They owned a sandwich shop for a while. He was a control officer for U.S. Fish and Wildlife and tracked Mountain Lions. He seems a rough and tumble kind of guy. I never knew him- he died when my Dad was still a boy. My Grandma Christine raised her boys by herself and then (at least to me) seemed to retreat into the background. I know she loved us though, and she was sort of around but not very involved.

My Grandfather’s Father- Joseph was a frontier doctor and town Marshal in the 1890’s- one day I’ll pass on some stories about him and my Great-Grandmother Sarah who worked by his side in the surgery and also gave birth to 9 children. They died when my Grandfather was just a tiny boy and he was then raised by various siblings.

Any way since I’m interested in knowing some of the Ukrainian cooking and customs that I missed out on- I’ve been gathering some recipes over the years. I’m sorry I can’t remember where I got this one, or I’d give credit- it’s been stuffed into my recipe file for a while and since I recently bought some luscious pie cherries I decided to make these. I think they’re a keeper. I cut them down the middle before I thought to take a picture.


Ukrainian Cherry Bars -Chereshnyanyk

  • 2 cups sifted AP flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup light cream
  • Sugared pie cherries or a can of cherry pie filling
  • a bit more flour to thicken fresh cherries if needed

Sift the flour with the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter. Combine the lemon juice, zest and cream. Add to the flour mixture and mix lightly. The dough should be soft. Spoon it into a buttered 9 x 13 cake pan and pat gently, elevating the sides to hold the filling. Fill with the sugared cherries (well drained and a little flour -1-2 Tb- added to thicken if juicy) or a can of cherry pie filling and bake at 375F for 35 minutes or until done. Cool and cut into squares.

I hope you enjoy!

Diakuiu! (Thank you in Ukrainian)


  1. Sophie says:

    What a great way to preserve your family’s history. Recipes are the best heirlooms, too, I’ve noticed :). Lovely job on this tart. I would love to feature this recipe on our blog and the Demy, the first and only digital recipe reader :). Please email if you’re interested. Thanks!

  2. casalba says:

    Hi Gabi, I think your Grandmother would have been very proud of these cherry bars.

    My mum’s Ukrainian and I can say that you have certainly got some of the ‘colourful heritage’ you mention: PASSION.

  3. Marie says:

    Hi Gabi, Nice to read about your heritage,it lets me get to know you a little better. I can’t tell you how good those cherry bars look! You’ve been cooking up some great things lately! I love everything!

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