Cranberry Cake

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Cranberry cake. Photos by Keri White.

For those of you who still have cranberry sauce or cranberries from Thanksgiving floating around, this cake is a fantastic way to use them.

I made cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and it was a good, traditional version of the condiment. But we are not huge consumers of it (is anyone?) and with just two of us at the table, there was significant surplus. I loathe wasting food, but even after a few turkey sandwiches slathered with cranberry sauce, and a tangy scoop in a vinaigrette salad dressing a few nights running, I was out of options.

Then I discovered this cake. It is a unique recipe in that it does not use any leavening. Rather it relies on the beating of the eggs to help it rise. It is best served warm with some whipped cream or ice cream for dessert, but because it is not overly sweet, it can do double duty with coffee at breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.


Most of the recipes for this type of cake used raw whole cranberries, but the cranberry sauce, which I had made from whole cranberries, worked just fine. I am confident that any type of fruit, chunky compote or jam would work with this cake — the key is not to over mix the batter, especially if using a jam or compote  —because you don’t want the cake to turn color, but rather have a ribbon effect with the whole berries or chunks dispersed throughout.

Note: Do not use canned, jellied cranberry sauce for this; it would melt in the batter and mess with the texture.

Cranberry Cake

Makes 1 9-inch-by-13-inch cake

A note on the batter: It is quite thick, more like a muffin batter than a thin cake batter. On its own, the cake has a snack-y feel to it, but when you serve it warm and add a dollop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, it’s plenty decadent.

I reheated servings in the microwave for 30 seconds before garnishing them with cream for dessert, and the texture was not affected.

3 eggs

2 cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons for the top of the cake

1½ sticks butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

12 ounces fresh cranberries or cranberry sauce with whole berries

Heat your oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick, light in color and doubled in size, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and vanilla and mix for another 2 minutes. Add the flour and mix briefly, just to blend. Fold in the cranberries. Spread the batter in the pan and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the cake is lightly brown, firm in the center and springs back to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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