February 27, 2013

Apple Cider Cranberry Cake

I am so lucky to live down the street from a farm with a robust farm stand with many varieties of vegetables, strawberries, melons, and some products they get from other local farms: apples, maple syrup, the best honey I've ever tasted, berries. They have their own cider mill to make fresh apple cider in the fall. It was delicious, but I couldn't drink it all, so I froze some, knowing I could use it in baking later.

Just look at this gorgeous building that houses the farm stand. And here's some of their vegetables for sale. (click on the photos to enlarge)

I'm in clean out the freezer mode because it has been much too full with items frozen during fall harvest and other times. So apple cider and cranberries made the cut in this surprisingly delicious cake. I didn't think it would be that good, but it really was.

I've also been thinking about ways to reduce my milk intake, since the quality of milk available to me is not that great. Though I did just find local organic, non-homogenized whole milk, it's pretty expensive and only available at stores pretty far away. I don't drink milk or eat cereal, but I do use it in baking and other recipes. I want to experiment with alternatives for milk in baking, and this recipe, which already called for apple cider, does not contain any milk.

Apple Cider Cranberry Cake
adapted from The Hungry Mouse

3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh apple cider
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup fresh apples, peeled and cut into small chunks (about 1 large apple)
1 cup whole cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw)
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the butter into pieces. Toss it into the bowl of a mixer (or a large mixing bowl if beating by hand) with the sugar. Beat until well combined, then toss in the egg and beat to incorporate. Add the cider. Beat until uniform, though it will look a little grainy.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Beat until just uniform. (Too much beating will make your batter develop gluten, which will make it tough.)

Add the chopped apple, cranberries, and walnuts. I keep my cranberries in the freezer. Beat quickly until just incorporated.

Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan and line with a round of parchment paper. Spoon the batter into the pan. Spread it around to even it out.

Put pan in preheated 375-degree oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

When it’s done, the cake will pull away from the edges of the pan slightly and will be golden brown on top. When you press on the top lightly with a finger, the cake should spring back. And, when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it out and cool completely on a rack before slicing.

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