I love baking with cranberries and apples in the fall and winter. I found this Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa) recipe from her cookbook, How Easy Is That?, on the Serious Eats website. Ina calls it “Easy Cranberry Apple Cake,” and it lives up to the “easy” part of that title.
I grew up near cranberry country in southeastern Massachusetts. A few times during my teenage summers, my friends and I cooled off with a swim in the irrigation canals of the cranberry bogs in the next town. We were young and stupid, not thinking about the pesticides that probably lurked in the water. We’d hang out there until the migrant workers started hooting at us.
Nowadays the closest I get to the bogs is when I’m visiting my family and we drive by them on our way to Plymouth. Ocean Spray used to have a museum in Plymouth, I think it was called Cranberry World, but, alas, it is no longer there.
Cranberries freeze well so stock up your freezer while packages are still in your grocer’s produce section; they’ll be gone in a few months. They’re incredibly tart on their own, but if you add a little sweetness to them, they’re fabulous in all kinds of baked goods. I like to keep small amounts of homemade cranberry sauce in my refrigerator so I can stir it into yogurt and oatmeal, add it to savory pan sauces, spread it on sandwiches or serve it on the side with meats. Plus, it packs a nutritional punch.
I made this rustic-looking cake for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure “cake” is the right name for this dish; it reminds me of a pie too. It’s like an upside-down cake but with a sweet coffee cake texture. I used a 9″ dish instead of the 10″ dish suggested in the recipe. You can tell by the photo below that my pie expanded as it baked. I ended up with some sticky filling on the bottom of the oven. The pastry outgrew the dish and I had to scrape some of it off the sides. However, it was delicious. The leftovers were great for breakfast, with or without vanilla ice cream.
Cranberry Apple Cake
- 12 ounces fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream — I used low-fat sour cream
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the sugar, butter, vanilla and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.
Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch pie plate. I only had a 9-inch plate and it overflowed in the oven while baking.
Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
Serve warm or at room temperature. It’s fantastic with vanilla ice cream.
Original Recipe: Easy Cranberry Apple Cake, Serious Eats, adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten