I have always loved cranberries in anything. When I was a kid, my mom always got the canned cranberry sauce during the holidays. You know the kind…. it slithers out of the can with a juicy plopping noise and has ridges on it from the can. I loved it and would eat all of it when no one was looking (sorry, Steve) Know what? I still love it. But even more than that, I love other cranberry filled treats. Every year, I make homemade cranberry sauce (as well as having the plopping canned kind). I love to spice it up with orange zest and spices and use brown sugar instead of (or in conjunction with) white sugar. All of that adds so much depth to the sauce. So, years back, when I saw a recipe for Ina Gartens Easy Cranberry Apple Cake; a saucy fruit bottom covered by a dense cake, in a November issue of “Womans World” (I admit to a strange liking for that magazine even still), I cut that page out and knew I would make it someday.Well, it took me about 6 years or so, but I have finally made it. And, oh…..my…gosh…. I am totally in love!
You all know I don’t rhapsodize over foods that often. I’ll say, “this was wonderful” or even “this was amazing”, but then I leave it at that. But not this time.. This time I am telling you that you have got to make this cake. It looks so simple when you read the recipe and when you see the finished cake…. just a homey little cake. But once you try it, if you have any love for cranberries, you will find yourself planning out how to store many extra bags of cranberries this season so you can continue to have this year round. It is sooooo good! I’ll be making this for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for groundhog day, for Herbert Hoovers birthday, when the groundhog sees his shadow (or when he doesn’t) I changed this enough to make it more to my families liking. Not enough to warrant saying it’s no longer Inas recipe, but as uppity as it may sound to some, I honestly feel that what I did only made this better. The original recipe only called for cinnamon (and a fairly scant amount) in the fruit part. I added extra cinnamon, extra orange zest, some cloves and used dark brown sugar. I also used about 1/2 cup more of chopped apples. The cake part was also fairly plain, not that that’s a bad thing. But I added some extra cinnamon to it as well as some orange oil (you could use orange zest if you don’t have orange oil) and extra vanilla and that was enough to make it go from good to “yum!”. The cake is unleavened, so it’s dense like a pound cake. Ina always calls for extra large eggs, which I never have, so when I use one of her baking recipes, I sub in an extra yolk for every two extra large eggs. The sweet, moist cake combined with the sweet tart fruit is amazing. Throw some lightly sweetened whipped cream on it and it takes it totally over the top.
You know the drill…. but I really stress it this time! GIT TO COOKIN’!
Cranberry Apple Cake
- 1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped tart apple (it called for peeled, I didn’t bother peeling.)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 eggs, room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled somewhat
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange oil (or 1 tablespoon orange zest)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup flour combined with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a ten inch pie plate, if, like me, you don’t have that, use a DEEP 9 inch cake pan. Not the typical shallow kind but one at least 1 inch deep. Wilton makes them for a good price. You could also probably sub a 13×9 pan, but watch your bake time.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon and cloves. Let sit while you make the batter.
- In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on medium, beat the eggs for two minutes. Add in the sugar, butter, vanilla, orange oil (or zest), and sour cream. Beat just until combined.
- On low speed, add in the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
- Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then pour the batter over the top of the fruit. Smooth again.
- Bake at 325 for 55 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the fruit is bubbly at the edges. Serve warm or at room temp. Then plan on making another. And another.
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