A popular recipe from the 1950s and 1960s, a dense, moist cranberry cake served with a rich butter sauce.
Tis the season! The halls are decked, strings of street lights blink red and green, sweet singing in the choir. Snow is glistening and Jack Frost nips at our noses so the fire is so delightful. With any luck, Mommy’s kissing Santa Claus, we’ll all be home for Christmas and faithful friends will gather near. Soon enough, the night will fall silent, upon the midnight clear. We’ll hear the bells on Christmas morn, our finest gifts we’ll bring. Joy to the world!
In the kitchen, tis the season to turn to recipes festive and somehow familiar, even if new, simple and yet special, even if decidedly unfussy. These cranberry recipes are favorites at my house. The pudding cake stretches back into my childhood. I remember my mother ladling buttery pools onto plates, then licking the spoon. It’s an English-style pudding, a dense, moist cake. It’s delicious with the sauce, good without. Mom’s sauce called for cream but that’s rich for my taste. Still, it might suit you and your family.
CRANBERRY APPLESAUCE For a season-perfect ruby-red applesauce, just cook 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, 4 pounds of unpeeled but cored apples with 1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 cups water until fruit is soft, then run through food processor.
CRANBERRY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL For a festive starter for a holiday brunch or weeknight supper, just mix 1 cup low-calorie cranberry juice with 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier. To serve, place an ice cube in champagne glasses, fill halfway with the juice, then top with champagne. Add a twist of lime if there’s time.
Time to table: 1-1/4 hours
- 1-1/2 cups flour (fluff to aerate before measuring)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 9 ounces), chopped in food processor to yield 2 cups
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup hot tap water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup whole milk (half & half and cream work too)
CAKE Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda. Stir in the remaining cake ingredients (the batter will poof a bit). Transfer to a well-buttered 9x9 pan. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes (will be slightly sticky). Cool slightly.
SAUCE Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan, add sugar and stir til smooth. Bring to a boil, let simmer for about 5 minutes. Slowly add milk and return to a boil. Boil for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat but rewarm before serving.
Cut cake in nine pieces, serve warm topped with warm sauce.
I knew this recipe was an 'oldie but goodie'! My Auntie Meryl reports that it was served at "every bridge club in town" in one version or another, in my home town. And great fun! I just now (2006) came across my Mom's column for cranberry pudding (yes, my Mom originated Kitchen Parade way back in 1959). Dated 1971, it starts off, "This cranberry pudding does not sound like much and does not even look like much when you serve it but it is outstandingly good, I think." I concur, on all counts! Cake: The cake itself is vegan and naturally fat-free, no dairy, no butter. I've made it successfully using Splenda as a sugar substitute and 100% white whole wheat flour. Cranberry Applesauce: If using Granny Smith apples, I recommend peeling first for the skins are some tough and escape the Cuisinart's blade.
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