Recipe File: Cranberry Tea Cake


Cranberry season is here, and I’m happy to tell you about a great recipe I made a while ago when my brother Dennis and I visited our aunt and cousin for coffee.

I wanted to bring something to go with the joe since Aunt Thelma claimed she didn’t bake much anymore. Because the baking bug hit me at 7 a.m., just a few hours before our visit, I had to work with ingredients I had on hand rather than run to the market. Luckily, everything came together when I found this recipe in my trusty Moosewood Restaurant  cookbook (I made a couple of substitutions as noted below).

I started with a bag of cranberries I’d stashed in the freezer oh so many months ago. The tart little red berry is grown commercially on a small scale in Michigan, but it’s the official state fruit of Wisconsin, the top grower in the U.S.

Fun fact: Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with 26 cranberries.

Check out the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website, U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee website and The Cranberry Institute website for tempting recipes and info on the berry’s health benefits.

As it turned out, our 80-something auntie had baked a delish banana bread for us, but she appreciated this tea (or coffee) cake. It would be tasty any time of year, so stock up on bags of cranberries while they’re plentiful; they freeze well.

Cranberry Tea Cake
from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook 

2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds (I used walnuts)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 pint sour cream (I used half sour cream, half plain yogurt)
2 eggs, beaten

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Whirl the cranberries in a food processor or in a blender in small batches until coarsely chopped.

In a bowl, mix together the chopped cranberries, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla, sour cream, and eggs and blend them well.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Blend until just combined.

Pour half of the batter into a buttered bundt pan or an 8-inch round cake pan. Distribute half of the cranberry mixture over the batter. Pour on the rest of the batter and top with remaining cranberry mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. When the cake is done, remove it from the pan and cool it on a cake rack.

Sprinkle the cake lightly with confectioners sugar.