I had neglected the blog recently as my attention had been directed elsewhere in the past few weeks. I have just returned from a trip back east where I attended my high school reunion, and boy, was it a good time. The last time I saw many of these folks they were 17 years old. It was actually kind of sweet how many of the guys were whipping out their iPhones and showing me pictures of their grand-children. Everybody was there; the captain of the cheerleaders, the homecoming queen, the jocks, the potheads, all just a little bit older and a little bit grayer (if that’s even a word). So, now the party’s over and it’s time for me to get back to my real mission in life, and that’s cake.
Today was one of those rare days in Los Angeles where it was cold and cloudy and actually raining. It was the perfect day to put on the thick fuzzy socks, a heavy sweatshirt and break out the KitchenAid and just bake. And did we ever have a good time, me and the KitchenAid that is. When November rolls around I like to make things with cranberries. Personally I think that they’re a terribly underrated fruit, but they really shine in this Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake. If you’re looking for a good cake to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner, this one would be a winner.
P.S. And I just want to give a little shout out to Mindy and Greg for reading the blog. Thanks!
Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake
From Williams Sonoma
- Unsalted butter for greasing pan, plus 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
- 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3 cups fresh cranberries, about 12 oz.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 lemons
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with butter. I used a silicone bundt pan, and the cake easily came out of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan, then evenly distribute the cranberries over the sugar
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Next, add the granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Finely grate the zest from the lemons over the sugar and mix briefly.
- In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from the lemons, use a sieve to strain out the seeds and pulp. In a liquid measuring cup, combine 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla; reserve the remaining lemon juice.
- Add the 12 Tbs. butter to the lemon zest–sugar mixture and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 batches. Raise the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes to aerate.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly over the cranberries. Bake until the cake is browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cake plate, lift off the pan and let cool completely.
- Once the cake is cool, in a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 1 1/2 Tbs. of the reserved lemon juice until thick and smooth. Test the consistency by drizzling a bit of glaze over the cake. If it runs off the cake, whisk in a little more confectioners’ sugar; if it sits on the cake without moving, whisk in a little more lemon juice. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 15 minutes.
I would suggest that you invest in a silicone bundt pan. My experience with metallic bundt pans is that often, the cake can get stuck in the crevices of the pan even when properly buttered and floured. When I use the silicone pan the cake always relases perfectly.
Tradition is a funny thing. You don’t mess with it, that’s how something becomes a tradition. You do it over and over. It is rituals that are handed down from one generation to the next. Thanksgiving is the most important and revered tradition in my family. It’s been an American tradition for a couple hundred years, but for my family in particular, it began with my grandparents. It’s a day that my whole family now waits for all year, and it’s all about the food.
In my house I’m known as the CEO of Thanksgiving, the Titan of Turkey and the Potentate of Potatoes. I rule this holiday with an iron fist. I make the same meal year after year. So, after 27 years of making this particular meal, I have in fact perfected it. My turkey is worthy of any glossy food magazine, my potatoes glisten in buttery goodness, and my cranberry sauce has just the right amount of tart and sweetness. My mother however is the VP of stuffing. For 27 years that has been her contribution, and she nails it every time.
However, sometimes traditions have to change. In with the new, and out with the old. In this case, I’m the old. My son graduated culinary school over 2 years ago, and he has been working as a chef in a fine dining restaurant. Last night he approached me and said that he would like to make the turkey and mashed potatoes this year for our dinner. I was stunned at first. Was he trying to yank control of this holiday out of my hands? When I gained my composure I realized that it may be time to hand the baton over to the next generation. Yes, I guess it was time to pass the tradition on.
So, now that I didn’t have to worry about the main course, I could focus on the really important aspect of the dinner; dessert. I decided to go very traditional, and serve a trio of desserts. I’m going to do mini pumpkin cheesecakes with praline topping, vanilla bean ice cream and these mini apple pies. Here’s to tradition.
Mini Apple Pies
- 2 pounds tart apples, (I used Granny Smith, Jonagold & Fuji) peeld, cored and cut into 1/4 inch slices small enough to fit into each cupcake opening)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground if that’s what you have)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- In a large pot or a Dutch oven, stir together the apples, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch.
- Cook covered over medium heat stirring occasionally until apples are tender, about 18 minutes.
- Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water, as needed
- Sift flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add chilled butter and shortening. Working quickly and using your fingertips, rub or cut the fats into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Sprinkle on ice water, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, and toss with a fork. Turn dough out onto your work surface and using the heel of your hand, smear dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Roll dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured work surface. Lightly spray the cavities of the cupcake pan. Cut circles, using a round cookie cutter or glass larger than the size of the cupcake opening.
- Gently fit the circles into the cupcake cavities. Spoon in the apple mixture, mounding it in the center. (the mixture will shrink so you’ll need to fill it generously). Dot the top of apple mixture with a small piece of butter.
- If you want a top crust, you can create a lattice top or another circular piece of crust on top. Using a fork I made sure that the top crust was connected to the bottom crust, trying to seal the two together so when they came out of the pan it did not separate.
- Brush the top crust with an egg wash – 1 egg and a tablespoon of cold water whisked together. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of each crust.
- Bake until crust is lightly golden brown and apple mixture is bubbling. (Place a cookie sheet under the cupcake pan to catch splatter).
- Let cool for 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges of cupcake cavities to loosen pies and using a spoon gently ease pies out of pan.