‘Tis the 1oth week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. This year has flown by – I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner! Most of my holiday shopping is done, although I didn’t have much of a choice because of the upcoming move. I’m really looking forward to some down time during Christmas week. While I know we’ll be visiting a lot of family, I’m hoping for a few hours to curl up with a book while my hubby serves me tea and cocoa (ha! wishful thinking, right?)
Anyway, after last week’s rich, decadent Bourbon Balls, I thought I’d bring you something a little lighter. I made this Lemon-Cranberry Cake for no special occasion, just for my hubby and I to have a sweet around the house. I enjoyed the cake for breakfast (it’s got fruit in it!), snack with tea, and for dessert. With all of the rich sweets that are served from mid-November through the Christmas season, this cake felt refreshing, with a burst of lemon and cranberry flavors. (Note: The lemon flavor still comes through in the cake, even if you decide to skip the glaze.)
Adapted from The Pastry Queen p. 76
Makes 1 loaf cake
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 1 1/4 c. fresh cranberries
- 1 2/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. all purpose flour (divided)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 Tbs. more to grease the pan
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1 Tbs. lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
Ingredients for the Lemon Glaze:
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter. Be sure to get the edges so that the cake doesn’t stick to the pan! Flour lightly, tap out excess flour, and set aside.
In a small bowl, toss cranberries in 1 Tbs. flour. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Lower speed slight and add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With mixer on low speed, add baking powder, salt, and half of remaining flour. Add half of milk, and when incorporated, add the rest of the flour, followed by the remainder of the milk. Scrape down sides of the bowl, mixing again on low speed if needed. Fold in lemon zest and floured cranberries.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55-70 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Set a cooling rack on top of a piece of parchment or wax paper (to catch any glaze that may drip if you glaze the cake). Invert cake onto wire rack to continue cooling.
Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cool sugar and lemon juice until sugar has melted, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until it has come to a boil. Allow to boil for 30 seconds before removing pan from heat. Allow to cool slightly, as glaze will thicken a little as it cools.
Glaze the Cake: Pierce top of cake all over with a toothpick. Use a pastry brush to apply warm glaze to cake. (My cake was still warm when I glazed it.)
Store covered tightly with plastic wrap at room temperature.
This is my third week participating in the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. This week, I bring to you a sweet for those mornings when family stays over or an afternoon coffee with friends.
This crumb cake comes together easily and quickly. The cake is light and airy and the crumb topping is more than generous. It tastes as good as bakery crumb cake, if not better.
New York-Style Crumb Cake
Adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2008/Cooks Illustrated
Makes an 8×8 in. pan
- 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and still warm
- 1/3 c. granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 3/4 c. cake flour
Ingredients for Cake:
- cooking spray/vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 c. cake flour
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
- 1/3 c. buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Make the Crumb Topping: Whisk together melted butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. When combined, add cake flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick and cohesive. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the cake.
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil, with an inch or two overhanging edges of pan. Spray with vegetable oil/cooking spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk (or beat on “stir”) flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. With a mixer on medium-low speed, add butter, one piece at a time, until mixture is crumbly and butter is pea-sized. Increase speed to medium-high and add buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. The batter will be thick and very sticky.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to even it out, making sure the batter reaches all four corners and edges of the pan. Using your fingers to crumble the cinnamon-sugar-flour mixture into pea-sized pieces evenly over cake batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until cake is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes in pan before using aluminum foil to remove cake from pan, move to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Storage: May be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.
I’ve been dying to make this cake again since the summer fruit started appearing in the grocery store. Not as pretty as the photos in the magazine, but this cake is a light summer treat.
Raspberry Peach Cake
Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 80 (p. 68)
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour, more for the pan
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2/3 c. plain yogurt
Ingredients for the Topping:
- 1/2 large, ripe peach, sliced very thinly (~ 1/16 an inch)
- 3/4 c. fresh raspberries
- 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Make the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Lightly butter a 9-inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper (trace pan and cut out a circle). Butter the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Gently sprinkle with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Lower speed slightly and dd eggs, orange zest, and vanilla, beating until thoroughly combined.
Remove bowl from mixer and sift in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and half of the flour. Fold into butter/egg mixture. The fold in the yogurt. Sift in the remaining flour and fold into wet mixture. Pour into prepared baking pan, and bake for 15 minutes.
While baking, make the topping: Using a fork, combine all ingredients in a small bowl, so that the fruit is well coated.
After 15 minutes of baking… pull out the cake (still on the oven rack) and quickly add topping to cake. It will still be very wet and look soft, but should hold the fruit.
Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife along edges of pan to loosen it, and then invert onto a plate. Peal away the parchment and flip cake right-side-up to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
I have to thank my good friend S. for picking out this recipe. We were bumming around the house while our husbands were playing video games, and she decided that I was bringing dessert to her house over the weekend. I’m always happy for an excuse to try out a new recipe, and was thrilled when she picked one from How to Be A Domestic Goddess, a cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I’ve flipped through it, but this was the first time I’ve ever made anything from it. After this recipe, I’ll definitely be going back to this book for more recipes.
This Chocolate Mousse Cake was super rich and fudgy. You can also skip the baking and just refrigerate the batter (chocolate mousse) in a bowl instead of baking it in a spring-form pan (and after licking the spatula, you may just want to do that!)
Chocolate Mousse Cake
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be A Domestic Goddess (p. 176)
- 11 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 2 oz. good-quality milk chocolate
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter
- 8 large eggs, separated
- scant 1/2 c. light brown sugar
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 Tbs. vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Prep: Preheat oven to 350F and put a pot or kettle on to boil (if making cake).
Line the inside of a 9-inch spring-form pan with aluminum foil, being sure to smooth out wrinkles. (The cake is baked in a water bath, and this will prevent the water from getting inside the cake. I lined the outside of the pan with foil instead, simply because I didn’t want to deal with pealing away the foil from the cake. There was a little water in the bottom, but none seemed to get into the cake.)
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat egg yolks and butters on medium-high speed until creamy – when the paddle is lifted, the batter should fall in ribbons, about 5 minutes. Add in salt and vanilla. When combined, add in cooled chocolate. Scrape down sides and make sure chocolate is thoroughly incorporated (I found some left on the bottom of the bowl). Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Clean the bowl, and with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high-speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add in dollops to the chocolate mixture, folding in to lighten.
Mousse or Cake?
If making chocolate mousse, transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate.
If making cake, pour into the prepared spring-form pan. Place pan in a baking dish and add water – water should come about 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, until top is dry and cooked, and inside is damp and mousse-like. (For me, at 50 minutes, the whole cake was a fudge-like consistency, so I recommend baking for 40 minutes and then re-evaluating from there). Remove from water bath and let cool completely on a drying rack. When cooled, release the pan and peel away foil.
Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream, raspberry sauce, or fresh fruit.
Operation Red Velvet Snowball Cake: Fail
I don’t normally post recipes for things that did not turn out well, but my mom and I really liked the idea behind the Red Velvet Snowball Cake and thought someone might use it for inspiration.
The original idea and recipe for this cake came from Redbook Magazine. The cake was supposed to be 4 layers of red velvet cake, with a cream cheese frosting, and coconut sprinkled on top and on the sides. Never having made red velvet anything before, we began by making Redbook’s cake, but the result was a very dense and flavorless cake.
Convinced it must have been a flawed recipe, we set out to try the cake again, this time using Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake recipe. However, Paula’s cake was also quite dense. Again, we weren’t sure where we went wrong.
Interestingly enough, Paula also has a similar Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, that my parents had both tasted before and loved. It was light and airy, what a cake is supposed to be. Her two recipes had some pretty significant differences, including the use of cake flour v. all-purpose flour and the use of butter v. oil. Perhaps these really made the difference in a light and fluffy cake?
Anyway, Operation Red Velvet Snowball Cake was deemed a failure. If someone has a tried-and-true red velvet recipe, please leave me a comment… I’d love to have another recipe in case I embark on this mission again next Christmas.