Sadly, this month’s baking adventure does not feature the orange mixer. It does, however, feature the million dollar question of why I bought a brick of cream cheese when this recipe does not in any way, shape, or form call for cream cheese?
Hard to say.
Let me start out by noting that I had to borrow a springform pan from my friend Ashley in order to make this cake, because hey, turns out I don’t own one. There are a lot of baking items I don’t own, and you know, that’s okay, because I don’t think there’s any room in my shoebox kitchen for any more pots, pans, or for that matter, breathing. As it was, I had very little counter space to work with while making this cake, seeing as how I’d had the girls over the night before for a Tuesday Night Dinner (pasta with tomato, butter, and onion sauce and a Tuscan pork tenderloin), and had to essentially use, then wash, every pot and pan that I own. And at the time of baking, all of said pots, pans, dishes, etc, were drying, seeing as how the only dishwasher I own is me.
Wait—have I ever shown you the exact smallness of my kitchen? Let me show you, so you can have a better visual of what This Girl was working with:
That’s one counter, there on the left. And those are some of the dishes. I had to put others away so I could perch my laptop on the counter (thankfully not precariously like last month), and thought mightily how handy an iPad would be in this situation. Or maybe replacing the ink in my printer so I could print out the recipe. No, I think just getting an iPad would be easier. Yes. Yes, indeed.
This is the other counter, and that small space in front of the coffee pot (which is not there for me, it’s there for The Swede, since, TRUTH: I don’t like coffee. I know! It’s amazing The Swede and I have lasted so long.) is the space I had to work with. You’re probably thinking, “Molly, that’s stupid. You should have used the other counter where your laptop is.” Oh, dear Interweber, YOU WOULD THINK. Unfortunately for This Girl, the electrical outlet is on this tiny counter, tucked behind the microwave and coffee pot, and since I had to plug in the mixer…well, you get the idea.
And if you don’t get the idea, let’s put it this way: Hot. Mess.
I should probably just move.
It would make my baking and cooking life so much easier, to have a kitchen that is bigger where I can fit stuff because I’m too lazy to work with the space I have and move things around.
Yes. Moving is the answer.
Since the directions of this cake are pretty self-explanatory, I won’t bore you with a step-by-step, but I will say that I can’t help but love any cake that starts off with butter, almonds, and brown sugar.
Oh yes. And it just gets better from there, my Interweb friends. I think it’s because there’s so much f-ing butter in this recipe.
Are we sure Paula Deen didn’t put this one together? Huh. No, there’s not a pound of cheese or any bacon in it anywhere, so I guess Paula stayed out of this one. I’VE GOT MY EYE ON YOU, PAULA.
To be honest, while I liked the streusel, I wasn’t sure on the overall cake. I prefer my cranberries in jellied form with can-shaped ridges on the side, thank you very much. But in making the cake, and lopping it all into the pan, I will fully admit that it’s a beautiful looking cake.
And the batter was delicious.
I may have sampled some.
I have no regrets.
TRUTH: The springform pan I borrowed from Ashley was 9 inches rather than the requested 10 inches. I vaguely wondered if this would have a large affect on the cake, but dismissed the thought since I A) was still wondering where the cream cheese fit in at this point, 2) realized in folding in the flour that I’d only measured out a cup rather than two cups, then when folding it in lost track of how much I’d put in and just sort of guesstimated and crossed my fingers that the cake would turn out fine, and III) was kind of nervous working with a springform pan. I feel I’m rather prolific in the kitchen, but I’d never used one of these pans before, and for some reason always viewed them as somewhat intimidating. Like if I popped the latch on the pan too soon the cake would come flying at me like a goddamned jack-in-the-box. Or spew forth like a pressure cooker. Which, if you know more than I do (which isn’t hard, really) you know is just not…even…possible. At all. But there you have it, a glimpse into my overactive imagination.
In the end, I increased the baking time to about an hour and 35 minutes, because the knife came out still goopy at an hour and 10 minutes. Whether the inch less made a difference (a thicker cake, longer to bake) or I’m just an ass is again, hard to say.
Seriously, we could go either way on this one.
When I finally took the cake out of the oven, it looked divine, if I do say so myself. And since this is my blog, I will say so: The cake looked divine, with the streusel browned and crunchy, the cake moist (sorry, I hate that word too, but there’s really no other word to describe it). And while I didn’t have to do battle with frosting for this cake, the worries crept in that I might have to do battle with that instead. Which did not excite me, because it’s one thing to go head to head with heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. It’s entirely another to face off with a metal ring. Literally.
I let the cake cool as directed , then carefully popped the latch. Nothing popped out at me. Nothing spewed forth. The metal ring slid off easily, leaving me with a cake that I now had to somehow get from the metal bottom to a glass plate. I mean, I guess I could have left the cake on the metal bottom, but Ashley would probably be upset if I only returned half of her baking instrument to her with a cheery note saying, “’K great, thx! Will bring back the rest of the pan when I’m done stuffing my face and no, I didn’t save a slice for you ‘K byeeee!” Plus, Mom gave me a couple lovely serving platters at Thanksgiving after I writhed around on the floor for awhile lamenting my lack of serving trays. She claimed she didn’t use the trays very often, but I think she really just wanted to shut me up. And no, I don’t blame her.
If ever you’ve seen me make pancakes or fried eggs (which is kind of weird, because hi, were you spying on me through the window? Ew.), you know that while I can pretty much handle anything a recipe throws at me (and if I can’t I have no qualms about making shit up as I go along), my skills at maneuvering a spatula in order to flip or dish out a serving of something can sometimes be lacking.
So it was with slow, careful movements—which was not easy to do considering I had a potholder on one hand since the metal bottom was still quite warm—I successfully transferred the cake from baking bottom to platter.
And then I promptly did NOT follow those bullshit directions of “letting the cake cool completely” before slicing a piece off for myself.
I mean, I waited a good, like hour or so, and I think that’s good enough. Well, maybe not good enough if you’re talking how nicely the slice stayed together at the tip, but whatever.
Happy holidays, you delicious saucy (but not like that) (yes, I mean in the deliciously naughty way, not like, the Thanksgiving way) (what?) cranberries, you. Cream cheese…well, happy holidays to you, too, even though you had nothing to do with this recipe. I still love you and will eat of your creamy cheese goodness heartily. Just…not right now, apparently.
December’s Cake: Cranberry Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
Makes one 10-inch round cake
For the Streusel
1 cup sliced almonds
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp light brown sugar
For the Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
Method – Streusel
Heat the oven to 300F. Grease a 10inch round springform pan.
Combine the butter, almonds and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Method – Cake
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium high speed until the mixture is lightened and increased in volume, about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on low speed, add the butter in a slow stream. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
Gently but thoroughly fold in the flour mixture, half a cup at a time. Then stir in the cranberries.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1hour 10minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom onto the wire rack. Cool completely before cutting into wedges and serving.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.