Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dipping into the cranberry supply...

I tend to go a little overboard when fresh cranberries come out and buy more than a couple "extra" bags to keep in the freezer. I have quite a few recipes that call for fresh and it is hard to fit them all in before the quick season for them is up. Now I am able to space the recipes out and we can enjoy the fresh cranberry experience all year around.

Today's recipe, Cranberry-Apple Coffee Cake, didn't even make a dent in the supply, but still uses a good amount of the tart fruit. A topping made from brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, chopped cranberries, chopped Granny Smith apples and apple cider are brought to a boil and cook for just a couple minutes until the mixture thickens and the berries soften. While this cools, a light lemon-scented batter is combined and placed in a round spring-form pan for easy removal. The fruit topping is dropped on top and gently spread over the batter - be careful to not stir this into the batter, you want it to just rest on top. This moist topping is going to make it a little tough to test the cake doneness - it will be puffed up in spots, so just do your best to find an opening to stick the toothpick in to check or at least make sure that the edges are starting to come away from the sides. For a little sparkle and crunch to the jewel-toned top, a sprinkling of vanilla sugar in scattered on top as soon as the warm cake is taken out from the oven. The tender moist cake is mildly sweet, so it would be an excellent mid-day snack - I will have to remember and make it again near the end of the year as it would definitely fit in for a fall-time party.

I mentioned that we need to have breakfast for dinner more often, so on tap for tonight was Banana-Cornmeal Crunch Pancakes. These whole-grain pancakes are about midway on the scale between light and heavy - they are thick and hold up on their own, but have a delicate puffy quality to them. The textural crunch of these pancakes comes in two parts - first from using whole yellow cornmeal with the second part coming from toasted chopped almonds. I used very ripe (read almost black) bananas for this - when you mash them, try not to get them completely smooth as a little chunky texture is desired.

As the bananas brought their own unique sweetness, a couple tablespoons of brown rice syrup was just enough to finish the job. I know this is an expensive product, so you could use honey instead or if you are feeling a little more indulgent you could substitute some Lyle's Golden Syrup for a delicious burnt sugar background. Instead of milk or buttermilk to thin the batter, yogurt is used which adds a little tang to the pancakes. You could use plain yogurt, but we went the vanilla route to give a little more character to these sweet soft rounds.


  1. Joe, I love this cranberry cake. It is just what I was looking for with some cranberries in the freezer crying to be used up.

  2. Valentina - we froze some of the leftovers and they came out just as fresh!