Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

This afternoon, I made the Smitten Kitchen's cranberry vanilla coffee cake.  OMG...  The only ingredient I had to modify was the 1/2 a vanilla bean.  I wound up using vanilla extract instead.  I will retype the recipe here and I will criticize the parts that I found annoying, not including the fact that for some reason, I can't copy and paste the recipe off her website onto my blog.  This recipe actually came from Gourmet magazine, December 2008 issue.

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups of fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 with rack in middle.  Generously butter a 9 by 2 inch round cake pan.  Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife.  (reserve pod for another use if desired).  Add sugar and pulse to combine.  Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not puree).

Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down side and bottom of bowl.  Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.

Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edge.  Spoon small bits of the remaining batter over the top of the cranberries and smooth them with as gentle of a hand as possible.

Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips.  Crumble over top of cake.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up.

Do ahead:  Coffee cake can be made 1 day ahead and kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

What Bugged About This Recipe:
1) Please tell me to use a big bowl when creaming the butter and sugar---especially when later on you tell me to add flour and milk ending with flour.  Something as simple as that would be helping out a poor recipe reader.
2) I wish you told me to me to watch the cake starting after 30 minutes of bake time, because in my oven, 45 minutes was way too long, and as a matter of fact, I started to smell the cake go towards the burning side of things and I pulled it out in the nick of time.
3) Let us know that if we haven't yet sprung for the big Kitchen Aid stand mixer, that it's still o.k. to use our little Kitchen Aid hand mixer with the 2 wire beaters. 

End Result:
This cake tasted great!  I forgot to add the confectioners sugar on top, and it was a little over done in my oven, but the cake texture was unbelievable.  Nice and light.  Not terribly doughy and rubbery.  The cranberry center is delicious as well.  I'd definitely make this again, except this time, I'd make sure to really use 1/2 the batter on the bottom (I used more like 2/3 of the batter on the bottom and it really made me stretch the remaining batter for the top not to mention the crumbly part as well).  


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