Let There Be Cranberries
I’m really hoping you like cranberries. Why? Because I’m about to load you up with several recipes in a row for them. I was fortunate enough to get four pints of locally grown cranberries at the Headhouse Market over the course of a couple weeks. Now I’m realizing it’s time to get some of these posts up before the alluring season of fresh cranberries passes us by.
I have a dream to some day tromp around a cranberry bog and help harvest these little jewels. Odd dream? Perhaps. Regardless, I mistakenly thought I’d have to travel far to do such so hadn’t put my dream into action. Before you get excited and think that I did get to harvest cranberries and am about to report on it, I haven’t. But I have recently learned of a couple cranberry farmers in New Jersey and hope to pay them a visit soon. You’ll be the first to know when I do.
Is it just me or is there something magical about these itty bitty fruits? Their color is my favorite in the whole wide spectrum. In fact, I had the paint for my kitchen walls specially mixed to match a cranberry I carried into Lowes with me. Talk about getting some weird looks. I also string them on fishing line to create a garland for my Christmas tree. Fun, right? Beyond their color, the tartness of cranberries seems to fit, surprisingly, into any number of sweet or savory dishes. How do they do it??
Since there are many more cranberry posts to come over the next few days, I’ll save the “this is why cranberries are good for you” dialogue for one of those. At the moment, all you need to know is that this Cranberry and Apple Ring Cake is delicious, moist, and super easy to make. It’s one of those cakes that I throw together for potluck gatherings, and it always meets with “Yum!” and “Wow, this is so moist.” While it could be made with frozen cranberries, I’d strongly suggest using fresh for a more vibrantly flavored and moister cake.
Oh, and I almost forgot about the apples (see, I’m such a sucker for cranberries that I get completely distracted). I used my beloved Nittany apples again since they are sweet and crisp, but not too firm that they don’t bake up soft in the cake. You could also use Honeycrisp, Gala, or Fuji. Or, if you don’t like apples all that much, try your favorite variety of pear instead.
Just be sure to use the cranberries!
Cranberry and Apple Ring Cake
Adapted from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking
2 c. self-rising flour
2 t. ground cinnamon
¼ t. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ t. ground cloves
½ c. packed dark brown sugar
1 large or 2 small eating apples, cored and diced
¾ c. fresh cranberries, larger ones cut in half
4 T. sunflower oil
¼ c. unsweetened applesauce
2/3 c. apple cider
Cranberry jelly* and/or apple slices to decorate
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a spring form ring pan.
Sift together the flour and spices, then stir in the sugar. Toss together the diced apple and cranberries before stirring into the dry ingredients. Mix together the oil, applesauce and cider before adding to the dry ingredients.
Spoon mixture into the prepared pan, spreading out batter into an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch. Remove cake from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
To serve, drizzle with warmed cranberry jelly and apple slices.
*To make your own cranberry “jelly”, simmer half a cup of fresh cranberries with 3 tablespoons of sugar and enough water to cover until reduced and somewhat thickened. Takes about 8-10 minutes.
(serves 8 )