I'm Seeing Red!

For those of you braving arctic temperatures, come right in and sit by the fire. How about a slice of cake, still warm from the oven—it is to live for!
Tea, perhaps?

For those of you living in a warm climate, get your dirty paws off the cake and get the hell out! And take your dark tan and flip flops with you too!

...well, if it looks like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the broom, it is because somebody did. It's that Old Man Winter again, having a negative effect on my alter ego. I think I she, should have some cake too.

And look, not even our normally placid Puddin' has been able to contain her displeasure. Smacking poor Louie, then drifting back to sleep, with the clear conscience of a cat.

So, it is with a bit of urgency that I contribute this wonderful little cake, notorious for putting a smile on all who try it.
The recipe evinces simple ingredients, harmoniously mingled together, to create a veritable masterpiece of flavors and textures. You'll be making this cake more than once. Yes, you will.

I know this, because it was voted Best in the Hemisphere by Thumper. And you all know how finicky he is. Never mind he has no idea what "hemisphere" means.

And so it is, with the approval of my adorable, little tax deduction, that I share this recipe with you.

Wintertime Cranberry and Orange Cake

Cranberry Filling:

12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
½ cup granulated sugar

Sponge Cake:

1¼ cups AP flour
1¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/3 cup sliced almonds
¼ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease an 8” Springform pan, dust the sides with granulated sugar, and line the bottom with parchment.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cranberries and sugar over medium heat. Stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and cranberries pop, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1¼ cups sugar, and baking powder.
Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, heavy cream, orange zest and vanilla in the same saucepan you melted the butter in. Stir into the dry ingredients until well combined.

Spread half the cake batter into the prepared pan. Spread the cranberry filling over the batter (don't let the cranberry filling touch the edge of the pan, or it will stick). Spread the remaining batter over the cranberries, and sprinkle evenly with the sliced almonds and remaining ¼ sugar.

Bake the cake until golden on top, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the cake and release the sides of the Springform pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Adapted from All American Desserts, by Judith M. Fertig.

Note: Did you know you can crystallize more than just fruits? Herbs, like rosemary, mint, and even bay leaves lend themselves to this simple technique. It's what I used on the frosty trim on the cake above, and the glass cloche below.
Start by whisking 1 tablespoon powdered egg whites with 2 tablespoons warm water. Brush egg white mixture to clean and dried herbs. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and set the herbs on parchment to dry. You could also add edible glitter to the sugar for a little extra sparkle.

And since we're crusading for World Peace, we might as well use up the rest of the cranberries, by making my favorite scones.

Excellent made with cranberries, red currants, and, of course, chocolate!

The ingredients are typical for scones. What is atypical is the technique, which consists of beating the heavy cream into soft peaks, making these scones featherlight, buttery, outstanding...and good too!

Cranberry Cream Scones

2 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh cranberries
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar*

Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the cranberries into the flour mixture.

Whip the heavy cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.

Fold the whipped cream into the dry ingredients, just until it forms a semi-cohesive mass.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently, a few times, until the dough holds together. With your hands, pat the dough into an 8-inch circle on a lined baking sheet. Brush scones with the butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar*

Cut circle into 10 wedges, without detaching them. And bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cut into the pre-marked wedges after they're baked.

*This time I topped the scones with turbinado sugar.

By the way, if you'd rather make smaller scones, divide the doughy massacre in half, and pat each half into a circle. Proceed as above.

If this last photo of cranberry scones raised an eyebrow of suspicion, you've been paying attention. They're not cranberries, but red currants in them scones.

Warm wishes to my blogging brigade!