Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cranberry Cake of Good Fortune

I'm always looking for a new recipe that uses cranberries. A cake recipe that ran in the L.A.Times last month sounded wonderful, though big. I made it for my book club last night, because a dozen people could nearly finish it, I thought.

I baked the cake even though The Fortune Cookie Chronicles clearly says that a Chinese meal does not finish with sweets, traditionally, and even though in her blog, Jennifer 8 Lee repeats that Chinese people do not bake --"Fried turkey dumplings, of course, were my family’s solutions to elementary school bake sales — as Chinese people don’t bake. They don’t bake brownies. They don’t bake pies. They don’t bake apple crisps. They don’t bake cookies (fortune cookies are grilled)." For the full treatment of her view, see these articles by Jennifer 8 Lee: One Cook’s Battles with Her Oven and this: My Fried Turkey Dumpling/Potsticker/Guotie Recipe.

But I wanted to bake. At Elaine's request, here's the recipe:

Cranberry orange cornmeal cake
Total time: around 2 hours … Servings: 18 … LA Times 10/29/08

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar (for batter) plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups cranberries, divided in half

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round by 3-inch tall cake pan (I used a 9” springform pan) and line the bottom with parchment paper (I couldn't find my baking parchment, so I just buttered the pan very heavily).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt and zest. Mix just until thoroughly combined; do not overmix.

4. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the butter just until combined.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add one-half of the flour mixture to the batter and quickly mix for 5 seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the rest of the flour, the ricotta and one-half of the cranberries. Mix the remaining ingredients into the batter over low speed just until combined, being careful not to over mix. (I may have undermixed a little, as the cranberries were much more evident in some slices than in others.)

6. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining cranberries over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (Ok, I just shook the sugar shaker over the cake until it looked sugary).

7. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (actual baking time was at least 10 min. longer – it rose all the way up to the rim of the pan, so it is a huge cake). Place a loose piece of foil over the top of the cake if it starts to darken. Cool the cake on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.

I followed the recipe directions for prepping all the different segments of ingredients, and the above photo shows how many different containers I had in use, even including the sugar shaker. Not shown: the 1 cup measure and spoons for dry ingredients.


Anonymous said...

Your cake looks lovely -- but I thought you might have made fortune cookies for your book club, as I know you've been reading the book. I've never tried making either fortune cookies or cranberry cake!

Mae Travels said...

We did have fortune cookies, as I mentioned in the post about our meeting. However, they were from one of the fortune cookie factories the book describes -- and in fact, came from Halloween treats received by a member's child. The book has quite a lot of detail about the special apparatus used to grill fortune cookies, so I would never try to make them. Not to mention the job of inventing fortunes and selecting numbers for lottery play.