from heart to hands to table

Cranberry Cake

I’ve mentioned my distaste for cranberry sauce before. As evidenced in my recent post on chutney, cranberry sauce’s exotic cousin, people can change. But I still didn’t have cranberry sauce on my Thanksgiving turkey last week. I did, however, have some of the left over ruby hued compote on toast one day and had there been any vanilla  ice cream in the house it would have been swirled into a pink cranberry-vanilla dream. As is always the case, I made too much this year. The turkey sandwiches are long over, and I’d hate to see it go to waste.

Thanksgiving always yields so many leftovers. Our Family Thanksgiving this year was obscenely superfluous. There were about 20 of us there but still, we barely put a dent in the food. There was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, beans, yams and sweet potatoes (because some like one but not the other), cranberry sauce and cranberry jelly (because some like one but not the other), brussels sprouts (the most controversial vegetable at any holiday table, salads, broccoli cheese casserole, rolls and gravy. Desserts included my uncle Rick’s homegrown pumpkin bourbon pie, a chocolate pecan pie, and a pear cranberry crisp. Not only were we stuffed, we had to fully refuse all leftovers because the following day we were hosting our own smaller scale, yet still leftover generating, harvest feast with some friends. Luckily so many of the leftovers are useful: mashed potatoes can top a shepard’s pie, veggies re-heat nicely, yams can be mashed and thinned with some milk and stock and spiked with curry for an excellent soup, and the turkey can become anything from sandwiches to pie to soup itself.

But what of the cranberry?

Happily, my love of cranberry and orange inspired me yet again, this time for a really quick and simple cake that whispers autumn with a bit of crunch from cornmeal and tangy swirls of cranberry sauce – an excellent use of soon-to-be-forgotten cranberry sauce. Too bad it would defeat the purpose to make this for Thanksgiving …

Whenever you make it, try this cake with a strong black tea in the morning or a cold glass of rosé in the afternoon. Trust me.


Cranberry Cake

preheat your oven to 350° – butter an 8×8 inch cake pan

¾ C orange juice

¾ milk

½ C vegetable oil

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp orange liqueur

2 eggs

the zest of one orange

2 C flour

½ C cornmeal

½ tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 C sugar

1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, plus more for serving

Mix the juice, milk, oil, eggs, almond extract, orange liqueur and zest well in a medium size bowl or a large measuring cup. Set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a second bowl, whisking or sifting well to mix.   Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, all at once. Mix gently together with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well to incorporate any dry spots.

Pour the batter into the buttered pan you have prepared. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the surface of the batter. Using a knife, marble the cranberry sauce into the cake.

Bake for 60 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before turning the cake out to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra cranberry sauce.


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