Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cranberry Spice Cake

In case you were wondering, five pounds of cranberries is a lot. Seriously, trust me. I let a sweet, little older lady talk me into getting five pounds of cranberries at her cranberry bog earlier this fall, and she had me leaving thinking it was a great idea. What was I thinking? I, of course, needed to use every last one of those cranberries as if wasting any of them would somehow harm the elderly woman. I did it, I succeeded. I used that entire bag of fresh cranberries before they went bad, which was about three weeks. I managed to make cakes, breads and jam out of that giant bag of cranberries.. I'm not complaining, it just always sounds like I am. Those were some amazingly fresh cranberries. Right off the bog, can't beat it.

Until last month, I had never been near a cranberry bog. Well, without knowing it anyway. I was driving in Wisconsin with three other ladies and there was a sign for "Fresh Cranberries". I wanted to stop, wait, I needed to stop. I thought it would end up being some guy standing behind some sort of table handing out cranberries for an absurd amount of money. I was completely wrong. About a half of a mile down the road from the sign was an insanely beautiful cranberry bog. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Apparently if we would have gotten there an hour later there wouldn't even have been a cranberry in sight. They were shipping them off. This is where the older woman comes in, lets call her Inga. Well, Inga is quite the business woman. She had her shop set up in an old shed and she knew her cranberries. In fact, she has her own cookbook. Which, by the way, three of us bought for $3. Thanks, Inga. I have to admit, I haven't made anything from her cookbook, but the pictures are beautiful.

I really enjoy baking with cranberries. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to bake with. Fresh cranberries are only around for a very limited time and I can't stop using them while they are here. I made a cranberry spice cake that I, and my guests, enjoyed very much. To me it almost tastes more citrus-y than spicy, but either way it's delicious. The lemon glaze is swell. 'Tis the season, enjoy the fresh cranberries while you can.

Cranberry Spice Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups fresh cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup apple cider

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of cake pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and coat paper with spray. Whisk flour and next five ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Pule cranberries in a food processor until finely chopped but not pureed, set aside.

Stir sugar, brown sugar, and oil in another medium bowl to blend. Add eggs one at a time, stirring to blend between addition. Whisk in sour cream, orange zest, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Whisk in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with cider in 2 additions and whisking to blend. Fold in chopped cranberries. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake until tester inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release cake. Turn out cake onto rack. Peel off parchment paper, then flip cake and let cool for 20 minutes.

Lemon Glaze: Whisk powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl. Spread glaze over warm cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Let stand until glaze becomes crackly, about 1 hour. Serve at room temperature.

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