Friday, December 14, 2012

Cranberry Orange Cake with Vanilla Crumb

I bought a little basket of fresh cranberries at the Medford Winter Farmers Market last week, not quite sure what I would do with them. They were just so shiny and vibrant that I couldn't pass them up. Alas, they sat languishing in the fridge all weekend until, finally, inspiration struck.

I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks, Rustic Fruit Desserts, and flipped through a couple cranberry recipes. One in particular was calling my name -- the Cranberry Buckle. Now, buckles are basically cakes with fresh fruit studding the batter and a crumb topping. This one involves one of my favorite power couples in the baked goods world -- cranberry and orange zest. I tweaked the recipe a bit to avoid a grocery store run, and then brought it to work for our annual Holiday Treat Week (after snagging the first piece for myself of course). It's a wonderful balance of sweet and tart and would be perfect addition for Christmas parties, dinner with the family, or a brunch with friends.
Vanilla Crumb 

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb white sugar
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in cubes
1/2 Tb vanilla extract

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Combine on low speed, until the texture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle the vanilla over the mixture and mix briefly until incorporated. (This can also be done by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor)

Cranberry Orange Cake

1 Tb unsalted butter, to butter baking dish
1 cup Vanilla Crumb (recipe above)
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
3/4 Tb vanilla extract
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-in square baking pan

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 

Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. 

Fold in 1 1/4 cup of the cranberries, and then spread the batter into the prepared pan. Distribute the remaining 3/4 cup of cranberries over the cake, and sprinkle the crumb topping over the cranberries.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.

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