Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Finish

I love finding recipes that remind me of the wonderful cakes and torts of Europe. Personally, I find our baked goods in the U.S. overly sugared. In the summers when we travel to Europe to teach at our watercolor retreat I have been known to beg the villa chef for his wonderful cake recipes. Often though, I loose something in the translation (my Italian is so-so) and once stateside I find it difficult to reproduce his simple but elegant cakes. So I was in heaven when I found this amazing Cranberry Cake that reminds me so much of the delicious cakes baked by Chef Jimmy. Once you try it I think you will agree it is also the perfect holiday cake.

I made this cake twice over the holidays; one to give and one for our Christmas dinner and it did not disappoint!
I topped it with the pecan crunch AND the whipped cream which took it to a very festive level! I have had nothing but rave reviews for this dense, moist cake with the burst of cranberry tartness! I plan on stashing a few bags of fresh cranberries in the freezer so I can enjoy this cake later in the year!

Cranberry Cake
Adapted from TheKitchn’s Recipe for Cranberry Cake  
makes one 9x13-inch or one 10-inch spring form cake

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional) I would highly recommend
1 tablespoon kirsch (optional) also...do not omit this and do not use the liquor, use the Kirsch Wasser
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups cranberries (1 bag)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan or a 10" spring form pan.
Beat eggs and sugar together for at least 5 minutes — probably as long as 7 or 8 minutes — the egg and sugar mixture should double in volume and turn pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters. (Be sure to beat for at least 8 minutes) 
Add the butter and flavorings and beat for 2 more minutes. Stir in flour and fold in cranberries. Pour into greased pan. (I found it worked best to add room temperature butter in small pieces at a high speed a little at a time, as it was easier to incorporate. Don't worry if you still have some butter that doesn't mix in)
Bake 45-50 minutes for a 9x13, or a little over an hour for the spring form. You may need to tent the cake with foil in the last 15 minutes or so to keep the top from browning too much. (Definitely tent the top especially if you add the pecan topping)
Cool completely before serving.
Optional pecan topping:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, toasted
Heat the butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the toasted pecans and cook for several minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts smell toasted. Spread over the cake batter and bake as above.

I topped the "gift" cake with freshly whipped heavy cream which I piped with a rosette tip and then added a few fresh cranberries on top (which I had cooked and added a bit of sugar to) for color. It gave it that Ohhh!...factor! Check out the pretty picture here to view The Kitchn's recipe photo. Mine looked exactly like Faith's picture....wish I had better photos....things were moving pretty fast here on Christmas Eve!

This is the one I made for us. I add the whipped cream as I serve it. The extracts give this cake an amazing flavor so do not omit! Michael is not big on sweets but he loves this cake. Probably for the same reason I do, great flavor, little sugar and a bit of tartness. This recipe is going in my favorites file! Enjoy!


Maria Rose said...

That looks good. I hate overly sugary cakes too!

Onlythemanager said...

I think I will have to try this! I love cranberries in ANY form.

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