Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Easy Cranberry Cake Pie

cranberry cake


If you have a stash of fresh (or frozen) cranberries, here’s what you do. Pour a couple of cups of cranberries into the bottom of a buttered pie tin (or 9-inch round cake pan), sprinkle with sugar, add walnuts if you like and whip up a buttery cake batter to pour on top. Bake. Cool. Share.

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s got history. And it’s everywhere. I made so many for Christmas gifts one year that I memorized the recipe. It’s that easy.

There’s a version called Nantucket Cranberry Pie in an old cookbook called “More Home Cooking” by the late Laurie Colwin (many credit her for the recipe). The King Arthur Flour site calls it Nantucket Cranberry Cake. Ina Garten does a variation with apples and brown sugar and sour cream and calls it Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake.

Next time I might add a little orange peel and cinnamon to the batter. I might even add a simple icing drizzle on top. (You know: confectioners sugar plus milk).

For Christmas gifts I bake them in foil pie plates and add a note that says they freeze easily (in case the recipient wants to save them for New Year’s eve!)

They’re great served at brunch. Or as dessert with a bourbon-laced whipped cream. Or whenever the spirit moves you.

Easy Cranberry Cake Pie

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Put 2 cups cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts in a buttered 10-inch pie plate. Top with 1/2 cup sugar.
2. Combine 2 eggs; 3/4 cup butter, melted; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup flour1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread evenly over cranberry mixture. Bake  for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

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A Red Velvet Cake Hug


This is a guest blog from Sarah James, a writer and camper who spreads cheer through food. Check out her blog: Mountainman Approved.


Every grandma has a signature recipe. One dish, whether it be sweet or savory, that embodies all of the love and care a grandma could possess. It’s a dish greeted by “oohs” and “ahhs”.  Eyes close and time stops as the first bite is savored and followed by sighs of blissful satisfaction.

While these recipes are beyond mouthwatering, what makes them special is the magic that they hold. Each bite eases heartache, wipes away tears, and soothes stress. They are the ultimate comfort food.

Over the past six months I’ve experienced plenty of heartbreak. A breakup, ailing grandparents, illness and a sexual assault, but no matter what life throws at me, I always find myself in the kitchen, recreating some of my Grandma’s iconic recipes. I’ve sought comfort in Grandma’s cooking: from melt-in-your-mouth Velveteen cookies, covered in sugary Day-Glo sprinkles, to flaky crusts filled with tender apples, sweet peaches and tart cherries.

The one recipe that I keep repeating is her infamous Red Carpet Cake. Also known as a Red Velvet Cake, this tower of crimson perfection always fills my bruised heart with sugar-coated happiness.

A little butter, a splash of vanilla, a shower of sugar and a hit of cocoa, are blended together and baked into three layers of moist cake, stacked and held together with the most decadent of icings—a cooked white frosting that is absolute heaven, and mends a broken heart.

If things are rough in your life, break out the cake pans and cut yourself a slice of this magical dessert.


One Response to “A Red Velvet Cake Hug”

  1. Jamie says:

    Lovely! Food heals so many sorrows, soothes so much pain. And food evokes emotions and connections. The last cake I ever baked with and for my brother was his favorite Red Velvet Cake so this has meaning for me as well. I will try your grandma’s recipe, Sarah.

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The Zen of Baking: Italian Cream Cake

There’s something settling and soothing about baking a cake. For me, anyway. More often than not, I use my old handheld mixer, even though I have the legendary KitchenAid stand mixer. The smaller mixer makes it all less complicated in a way-too-complicated world. (Plus it’s a bicep exercise in my book.)

I get my “om” on as I turn off my mind and watch butter and sugar combine to a thick pale yellow fluffly mass. I am mesmerized by the whir of the beaters as egg whites transform into white billowy clouds. The act of gently folding those egg whites into the batter—to insure a light and airy cake—makes me feel light-hearted (or maybe light-headed). :0

What prompted that soliloquy? Well, I felt the urge to bake cakes this week. Two in one week! One, our family’s recipe for Banana Cake with Fudge Frosting (perhaps I’ll share another day).The second was this Italian Cream Cake from Better Homes and Gardens for a friend’s birthday.  It ended up to be a three-layer beauty that foiled my attempt to deliver it under a beautiful glass cake dome. Too tall. So I simply flaunted it on a pedestal and covered it loosely with plastic wrap, putting candles on top to keep the plastic wrap from touching the frosting.

I usually like to tweak or reinvent while I cook, but because baking relies on science, my first go-round always starts with a tried-and-true recipe. I did increase the Cream Cheese icing, because, hey, it’s for a birthday cake. But the cake recipe belongs to BH&G. Here it is.

Italian Cream Cake

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup  butter
  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2 cup  shortening
  • 2 cups  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 1 cup  buttermilk
  • 1 cup  flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup  finely chopped pecans, toasted
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup  chopped pecans, toasted


1. Separate eggs. Allow egg yolks, egg whites, and butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour three 8×1 1/2-inch or 9×1 1/2-inch round cake pans; set pans aside. In a bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a very large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add the egg yolks and vanilla; beat on medium speed until combined. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in coconut and the 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans.

3. Thoroughly wash the beaters. In a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold about one-third of the egg whites into cake batter to lighten. Fold in remaining whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pans.

4. Bake about 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, about 35 minutes for 8-inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks.

5. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on serving plate. Spread with about 1/2 cup of the Cream Cheese Frosting; sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans.(Note from Jeanne: I also sprinkled flaked coconut between the layers in addition to the pecans.) Top with second cake layer, bottom side down. Spread with 1/2 cup more frosting and sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts. Top with remaining layer, bottom side up; spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Press remaining nuts (and coconut, if you like. I like.) around side and on top of cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting: In a bowl beat 12 ounces cream cheese, softened; 6 tablespoons butter, softened; and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla until smooth. Gradually add 6 cups sifted powdered sugar, beating until smooth. (Note from Jeanne: I only used about 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar. It was plenty thick and made for a less sweet frosting.)

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