Looking for something sweet and seasonal that comes together quickly and tastes great? This cranberry cake fits the bill. My neighbor Polly gave me a slice of this a while back and I could have sworn it had almond paste in the recipe. But no, it's almond extract and the rich taste comes from the butter - 1 1/2 sticks of butter. I served it in small pieces at a reception recently, but you can throw cholesterol caution to the wind and make them true squares if you like, as the title suggests. You might be skeptical when you see that it's made without any baking powder, but as you can see from the photo, it rises enough from the eggs in the recipe. The top is crunchy and breaks apart easily, so make sure you wait until the cake is cool before cutting - preferably with a serrated knife.
The sugared cranberries make a nice accompaniment and are a snap to make. The recipe is below.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I toasted these lightly first to bring out the flavor.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter a 9-inch square baking pan
- Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in a large bowl until slightly thickened -- about two minutes.
- Beat in melted butter and almond extract
- Add flour and stir until well blended.
- Stir in cranberries and pecans.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean - about one hour (I baked it for one hour and 15 minutes.)
- Cool completely before cutting into squares or smaller pieces.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cranberries
sugar, or superfine sugar to coat
Bring the water and sugar to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Don't boil it or the cranberries will pop when you put them in. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and dump in the cranberries. Pour it all into a shallow container and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The next day, drain the cranberries (reserve the syrup for another use if you like), then roll in sugar. Use superfine sugar if you like, but I used regular sugar in the photos above. Spread them out on a sheet of waxed paper and let them dry. If you like, you can roll them a second time in more sugar.