December 20, 2010

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

Last year when I returned home for break it snowed. And I mean it snowed. Last winter was snowy in general, we received seventy-some-odd inches of snow. And a good portion of that snow was when I came home for break. So, picture this... Katie is so happy to be home, it's snowing outside so she can't go anywhere (not that she wanted to), so what else was there to do but bake? I'm not going to list off all that I made, as many of them will be out of the oven and on here in the next few days, but I made a lot. And it was amazingly fantastically delicious.

Here's a repeat from last year- cranberry vanilla coffee cake. The vanilla infused sugar radiates in every bite in a subtle and delicate way, yet providing an amazing background and base flavor for the cake. And the cranberries; personally, I think cranberries are one of the most underrated and underused fruits/berries out there and this cake truly lets them be the star and have them shine as the star. Together the cranberries and vanilla sugar take the cake, literally.

Oh, and might I add that the crumb topping it absolutely fantastic. I always save it for my last bite :)

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2008

For Cake
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries (or thawed frozen ones work as well)
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (not skim)

Make Cake:
Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9x2 inch circular cake pan and then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Pulse vanilla and sugar together in a food processor until thoroughly combined, place in bowl.

Back in the food processor, pulse together the cranberries and 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar until the berries are finely chopped. Be careful not to over-pulse or the mixture will puree and make the cake soggy.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of the vanilla sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon of butter to make a crumb mixture: set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until evenly mixed. In a stand mixer, cream the stick of butter and 1 cup of the vanilla sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour until just combined.

Spread half of the batter in the pan (batter will be thick!) and then top with the cranberries, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges. Top with the remaining batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the top portion of the cake comes out clean.

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