As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I love traditions. Especially ones related to food. And, especially ones related to Christmas. See where this is going?
Every Christmas Eve, my parents host a small lunch where we make beef stroganoff (post forthcoming), and this Cranberry Christmas Cake. It is a relic of sorts, brought back from childhood Christmas dinners with the Troups. The recipe was given to my mother by Meg Troup, a woman who taught me all about garden-fresh salads, table manners and style. When Mrs. Troup's husband retired after years as a doctor, the story goes, she threw two retirement parties: one for her husband, and one for herself. She retired from being a homemaker and her husband whipped up dinner from then on (more on those meals later, rest assured). She took charge of the salads that started the meal and many times, the desserts that ended them. We were a well-fed bunch, to say the least.
Back to this divine cake, though. The cake gets drizzled with a buttery, caramel-like sauce. Drenching the cake in sauce is also an (excellent) option.
The sweetness of the sauce might be overwhelming but for the tart, fresh cranberries in the cake. The flavors pop surprisingly in your mouth: for one of the easiest recipes I have ever made, the resulting flavor contrasts are slightly complex.
The recipe is at the bottom of this post, and I know it might be a bit late to use it for your official Christmas dinner. But, truly, there is no better way to end a meal than with a sweet, warm, dessert in a bowl. It is truly cozy and you certainly don't need to wait until the next holiday season to try it. In fact, you could serve it for New Year's Day dinner!
I apologize for the lateness of this post, but you'll have to excuse me. I left on Christmas day to join my family for a few weeks in Sri Lanka. And as I'm sure you can understand, it is very hard to get anything done with a view like this:
Best wishes for 2011 and Happy New Year!
Cranberry Christmas Cake
1½ Tablespoons soft butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberry halves
½ cup butter (1 stick, room temperature)
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
(I never said it was low calorie. I just said it was a delicious tradition)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 9” round cake pan. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt together. In a larger bowl (or a fitted mixer if you’ve got one), mix butter and sugar together. Alternate between adding milk and dry mixture until all ingredients are well blended. Gently, and thoroughly, fold in cranberries with a spatula or wooden spoon. Spread mixture evenly in pan, bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool cake until it is warm on wire rack.
After cake is out of oven, place butter, sugar and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together while the butter melts and bring to a boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and add vanilla. Serve cake warm and pour sauce onto individual servings right before eating. Try to remember that licking the bowl is A-Okay.