Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lee's Cranberries & Cranberry Walnut Vanilla Coffee Cake

In my last post I mentioned my Uncle taking Daph and I to meet and say goodbye to the lovely Lee who, along with her husband Roger, own Blue Water Inn. While we were there I noticed sitting on her kitchen counter two very large zip loc bags filled with the plumpest, most beautiful cranberries I'd ever seen. I was not shy about asking if I could have some for baking. Thinking she would transfer a couple of cups into a smaller bag, I was surprised and so grateful when she flashed a big smile and happily handed over one of the two bags. "They're yours," she said. She went on to explain that a friend gathered them fresh that morning from one of his cranberry bogs in Maine. I didn't even know Maine produced their own cranberries, and such beautiful ones at that. You hear lots about Maine blueberries in New England, of which they're famous for, but never cranberries. We generally think of Cape Cod when talking cranberries. These particular berries were perfect for baking; Cooking down more than any I've worked with before. And sweeter. I've never really been much of a coffee cake person, but everyone in my house agreed, this one was really good.

Cranberry Walnut Vanilla Coffee Cake
Recipe courtesy and Adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious


1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
1/2 teasponn lemon zest (Optional)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (Optional)

Garnish: Dust with confectioners sugar


Place rack in middle of oven, close door and Preheat to 375 degrees F. Butter 8-by 2-inch rounded cake pan generously. Cut parchment paper into round to fit bottom of pan. Line pan with parchment and butter again generously. (It never calls for this, but I also make strips to line around buttered sides of pan with parchment then butter again, as well.)

To food processor, add sugar. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod and add to sugar in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add sugar to small bowl. Reserve bowl. In food processor, pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup of the vanilla sugar from reserved bowl just until chopped finely but NOT puréed.

In separate smaller bowl, add 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and whisk until combined.

In medium bowl, add 1 stick butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 cup vanilla sugar from reserved bowl of vanilla sugar (1/4 cup vanilla sugar and 1 tablespoon butter should be remaining). On medium-high speed, beat until light, fluffy and pale in color. Add in eggs one by one, beating to combine after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. While mixing on low speed, alternately add in flour mixture and milk, starting and finishing with flour mixture, just until combined. Gently fold in chopped walnuts to batter, if using.

Add half of the batter to lined cake pan and spread evenly. Just before adding cranberries to cake, mix in lemon zest if using. Leaving 1/2 (one half) inch border around edge of batter, spoon cranberries over-top of batter. Completely top with remaining batter, using knife or back of spoon to smooth.

Add tablespoon butter to remaining 1/4 cup sugar and use fingertips to blend. Sprinkle crumbled mixture over the top of cake.

Cake should be baked when sides begin to pull away from sides of pan and tester inserted into cake (not cranberry filling) comes out clean, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes before removing. Allow to cool completely on cooling rack, crumb side up.


  1. Oh Ree this look absolutely amazing! What beautiful recipe! have a nice weekend! x gloria

    These cranberries are the most beautiful I seen!
    here's are so small!

  2. ALWAYS have some of the most rich baked goodies! How come? tut tut tut..unfair :) What an awsome treat.

  3. You are so lucky to have FRESH cranberries! I'll have to settle for the bags in my grocery store. Your coffee cake looks absolutely wonderful!

  4. i saw cranberries at my market last time and wondered how i should use it! great recipe!

  5. oh my gosh, that looks like the perfect thing to wake up to! I wish I had a piece right now!

  6. This looks awesome...I am so making this! Love cranberries and don't cook with them nearly as much as a should. Great recipe.

  7. How sweet of Lee! Your coffee cake looks delicious and I could go for a slice right now!

  8. Wow, this looks so fabulous and I'm sure this dish came out so wonderfully because of how fresh the cranberries are!

  9. This sounds delicious! And it's gorgeous! What a perfect dessert for this time of year..I always buy too many cranberries and end up with a ton in my freezer, now I have a new way to use them up. Thanks Ree!

  10. Your coffee cake does looks very good, love cranberries but unfortunately they are very expensive over here!

  11. I am a big fan of fresh cranberries and nuts...this is one perfect coffee cake for me!

  12. These cranberries sound excellent and the coffee cake looks so yummy with addition of walnuts and vanilla too!

  13. Gimme gimme! Is it ok if I forget about my diet?? ;)

  14. this is the prettiest most luscious looking coffee cake I've ever laid eyes on. holy cranberry red.

    and congrats ;) you must be elated.

  15. Hi Ree! First off, thank you for the beautiful and kind comment you left on my blog. It was very touching and very much appreciated. :)

    Secondly, this coffee cake looks fantastic. I'm always nervous to bake with fresh cranberries because of their tartness but I think this recipe will help me get rid of that fear.

    Finally, I hope you and Daph had a great time in Maine. You guys look very happy together and I am so happy that you have found each other. My fiance and I have been doing the long-distance relationship thing for the past few months and it has been difficult, but I know it is just temporary. That helps a lot to get through the hardest days.

    Thanks again for the comment and this wonderful recipe. :)

  16. What a gorgeous coffee cake with that layer of fresh cranberry goodness nestled inside! This would be so perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast!

  17. I am lucky to get fresh NJ cranberries and have some on my what to make, but this looks great with a cup of tea!

    How lucky you are to live wither Fearless lives- do you get to go to events with her much- they seem like fun!

  18. Wow! I've never, ever seen cranberries anyway except in the "bag" or cried...they're beauties! I'd love to actually see a cranberry mom tells me stories of them... :D Awesome cake...nom!


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