Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hogwild with cranberries...

We decided today would be an informal treat day at Jeff's office and he brought in a fresh batch of the Sugared Cranberries that we first tried a couple years ago. Yes, it is quite out of season, but we are still trying to plow through the bags of cranberries lurking in the freezer before the move. They were a little on the soft side since they started out frozen, but were still quite good!

Sugared Cranberry PictureI've done quite a bit of baking today for the "official" Wednesday Treat Day tomorrow. I ended up doing two recipes - one that called for a whole bag of those infamous cranberries and one that used up some blueberries we had. We'll concentrate on the cranberry recipe for today's post - the extra long title, Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake, fits especially well since it not quite that time of the year yet!

This is quite an intriguing recipe - you start out by making a thick, chunky and slightly tart cranberry jam that ends up being the filling for the cake. Since cranberries and oranges have an affinity for one another, the homemade jam's flavor is heightened by the additions of fresh orange zest, orange segments and a quarter cup of its sweet pure juice. It will be pretty easy to tell when the jam mixture has cooked enough - it is done when your spoon leaves a track behind as you stir the jam around. To make this a little easier, you can do this part ahead of time as it needs plenty of time to cool down - I made this part of the recipe yesterday.

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread CakeIt is a little hard to describe the cake part of this recipe - we both think it is best described as a soft cake merged with a chewy sugar cookie if that makes any sense. The cake/cookie dough is soft and rich with butter, but has just enough flour added that it is not sticky and was a dream to work with. The delicate dough is divided in half, with each being rolled out just large enough to slip into a 9" springform pan. One half is placed in the bottom of the pan and the generous jam filling is spread over the top. The other half of the dough is then fitted over the filling, where you can easily manipulate it to completely cover the top. To give the cake a bit of sparkle and crunch, a light coating of granulated sugar is sprinkled over the unbaked dough.

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread CakeOnce it had baked and cooled, we anxiously cut into the cake, shattering the crisp sugary crust on top, to reveal the striking mound of deep red jam hiding inside. The filling had a slightly tart bite to it, but it was tempered when paired with the richness from the cake. We had our test slice (quality control you know...) plain, but this would be a refreshing and stunning dessert served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side! I usually make a pumpkin pie for a Thanksgiving dessert for us, but this will be a serious contender to replace it this year!

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake


  1. Ha - silly me - when I first saw your photo, I thought those were ice crystals from the freezer! :)

  2. Alysha - hee hee... nope! Just tiny sugar crystals!

  3. Wow! This looks yummy. I wonder if you could substitute strawberries.

  4. This is wicked! and sugared cranberries! I want some.

  5. It's only in the last few years that we could start getting frozen cranberries here or dried for that matter. Your cake is really intriguing, we love cakes that utilize the sharper fruits.

  6. Nirmala - I'm not sure how they would work as they have a higher water content, but it would be a good experiment!

    Cynthia - give them a try when the fresh cranberries come back in season!

    Neil - Thanks!