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.