Cranberries + Coffee Cake

December 20, 2008 at 1:15 pm 11 comments

Slice of cake

There are no two ways about it.  The holiday season is officially in full swing.  The past few years the holidays haven’t been all that festive for me with some stressful situations surrounding them.  However, this year I feel a bit more in the merriment mood, having been surrounded by the magic of the Christmas season at Longwood Gardens and a few timely holiday activities like ice skating, wreath making and a little soirée that included an Italian-themed potluck. 

Cranberries in a sack

The party was the perfect opportunity for me to try out this recipe from this month’s Gourmet.  I have to take a moment to thank Deb at Smitten Kitchen for leading the way though, thereby giving me more confidence to tweak it and take an untested dessert to a party.  Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache did indeed pass the test with flying colors.  The cake itself is dense and rich while the layer of cranberries cuts through and cleans your palette with a zippy zing.   The drizzle of white chocolate on the top just the touch of sweetness that dresses up the cake for fancy holiday dining. 

Vanilla sugar over cranberries

Cranberries are unique to North America, I realize.  And I’ve always felt lucky to have the bogs of New Jersey, the third largest region for cranberry production in the United States, close enough to consider them local.  While they are actually harvested in October, the past two years I’ve made a point to buy  up as many local cranberries as I can find so I can freeze them to use all winter.  If you don’t have cranberries at your disposal, I suspect this cake could be made with dried cherries or an orange marmalade. 

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake wtih White Chocolate Ganache

As an aside, I thought I’d clear up any confusion about the designation “coffee cake”.   In my experience, some folks seem to be under the impression that it has to have coffee in the recipe.  In actuality, coffee cake is really just any kind cake that gets served with coffee Months of Edible Celebrations has a great post on the history and definitions of coffee cake.  Coincidentally, I was born on National Coffee Cake Day!  Fun, eh? 

Mosaic of cake

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2008

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 C. sugar
2 C. fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
1 ½  C. all-purpose flour
½ C. whole-wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened,
2 large eggs
1/2 C. whole milk

Crumble Topping
¼ C. vanilla sugar
1 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. unsalted butter

½ C. white chocolate morsels
1 T. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9 inch spring form pan. (If you have the baking spray that comes with flour in it, use that.)

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor. Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée).

Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Using a spatula, fold in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.  Batter will be thick.

Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Spoon small bits of the remaining batter over the top of the cranberries and smooth them with as gentle of a hand as possible.

Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake to loosen any spots that are sticking.  Cool in pan 30 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely.

When cake is completely cool, make the ganache by combining the chocolate and cream in a small bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave for another 15 seconds.  Repeat until smooth and fluid.  Place ganache in a piping bag (or use a sandwich bag with a tiny bit of the corner snipped off) and pipe over the cake.  Allow to harden before serving. 

(serves 8-10)

Slice cut out


Entry filed under: Recipes, Sweet Treats. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Vanilla Scented Madeleines & A Movie Happy Holidays & A Give Away!

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Louise  |  December 21, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Your coffee cake looks scrumptious! I always have vanilla sugar on hand and yet, I’ve never thought to meld it with cranberries. I just love the idea of cranberries with a hint of vanilla. I’ve never been to Longwood Gardens in the winter. I can just imagine the festivities. How lucky are you to have the “bouncing berry” at your disposal all year long. I personally think cranberries don’t get the attention they deserve.

    So glad you’re feeling a bit more merry. I went through a “dry spell” of merriment for a few years myself but when I reemerged, I felt it in a whole new light! Thank you so much for posting this recipe and for visiting National Coffee Cake Day. How cool is it that it also happens to be your birthday!! Bookmarked!!!

  • 2. Meg Sylvia  |  December 21, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    You’re blog is great! I’ll be sure to link you!

  • 3. gintoino  |  December 22, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Here they are again, the cranberries! The ones you brought me last year are long gone as chocolate and cranberrie muffins. Are you coming to Portugal again soon? 😉

    I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Jennie. May the New year bring you all you wish for.

  • 4. Jennie  |  December 22, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Gintoino – I know! I will always feel a little sad every time I post a recipe with cranberries, thinking of you without them there. 😦 But, did you notice the little note at the end of the post about maybe using dried cherries instead? Do you have those? 🙂 Perhaps a trip to Portugal is very much needed. If I *have to*, I suppose I could force myself to go there again. Hehehe. 🙂

    A most merry Christmas to you too! Thank you for being such a great blog buddy! May your holidays be full of family and joy!

  • 5. Jennie  |  December 22, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Louise – Thanks for all your lovely comments as of late. I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. Thank YOU for all the great information on coffee cakes. I’d never have known my birthday was so fortuitious as to fall on National Coffee Cake Day if it hadn’t been for your lovely blog. 🙂 Happy holidays to you and yours!!

  • 6. Jennie  |  December 22, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Meg – Welcome to SFTF! Enjoy and thanks for commenting!! I appreciate the link! 🙂

  • 7. megan  |  December 23, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Your photos are stunning! This sounds absolutely delicous. What a perfect version of coffee cake for the holidays! YUM!

  • 8. ingrid  |  December 29, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Looks wonderful! I’ve seen this around but you’ve inspired me to make this and use up my fresh cranberries. Thank you!

    Happy 2009!

  • 9. oweynge  |  January 1, 2009 at 8:40 am

    I just discovered your blog via a flickr group!

    zomg! the blog i’ve been looking for. delicious FOOD + nice photography. keep it up!

  • 10. Deconstructed Pear Salad « Straight from the Farm  |  November 24, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    […] Roasted Beets over Gingered Millet Saffron Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower Carrot Cake Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Soup Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache Bittersweet & Nutty Greens Mixed Fried Potatoes Roasted Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Bread […]

  • 11. Croqueuse tunisienne  |  May 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

    C’est du plaisir de regarder ce blog


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