1 pound fresh dark sweet cherries, pitted and halved (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup shortening
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups 2% milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Place butter in a 13×9-in. baking pan; heat in oven until butter is melted, 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from oven; tilt carefully to coat bottom and sides with butter. Immediately sprinkle with 3/4 cup sugar. Arrange cherries in a single layer over sugar, cut side down.
In a large bowl, cream shortening and remaining 1-1/2 cups sugar until crumbly. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Batter may appear curdled. Spoon over cherries.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Serve warm.