Cranberry Pecan Orange Cake - The Home Bakers

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Many months ago Joyce from Kitchen Flavours sent me an email asking me to choose a recipe from Lou Seibert Pappas' Coffee Cakes to bake for when my time to host our monthly bake for The Home Bakers would come. 

I remember leafing through this lovely, relatively small cookbook, and asking myself which one I would like to bake. There were so many. Sweet and savoury! 

I could not decide! 

Everything sounded really exciting and extremely appetising...I wanted to make all of them. But I had to make a decision so I turned to the best way I know and use when I am in a situation like this.... I asked George to give me a random number. I did not tell him what it was for, this process has to be as unbiased as possible. He chose the number 21 and I went ahead to look in the book and see what was on page 21. 

Cranberry, Pecan & Orange cake was on that page and today is The Home Bakers' 20th bake!

I was really excited because I have never baked with cranberries before! I love cranberry juice. It's initial sweetness, abruptly cut by a refreshing tangyness makes it really refreshing and makes me feel like I am drinking something very healthy and good for me. But as I said I have never used the fruit in cooking or baking. The good thing is that Croatia is full of cranberries! They are called brusnice and you can find then in all forms, fresh, frozen and dried. I chose to use frozen. June is not their season yet. 

Unfortunately I was not able to find the frozen orange juice concentrate that the recipe required. I remember seeing it in supermarkets when we lived in Riyadh and I always asked myself why would somebody want to drink juice from a frozen tube. I can understand that the flavour must be more intense, it being a concentrate, but I prefer my juice in a liquid, fresher form. I decided to use fresh orange juice and the zest of two oranges to give the cake the orange flavour and aroma that really complements the cranberries!

The cake came together very quickly and it was really tasty and not overly sweet. The tangyness of the cranberries helped  a lot with that. It is moist but also quite crunchy when you get a bit of the streusel topping   in your spoon!
Cranberry Pecan Orange Cake
Serves 8
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup undiluted frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (or 1/2 cup fresh orange juice and zest of two oranges)
1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Streusel Topping
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into bits
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pecan halves
Preheat your oven at 350F/180C degrees and butter and flour a 9-inch/20cm pan. 

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir to blend. In another, larger bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until they become creamy and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well. 

Add half of the flour mix into the egg-butter-sugar mix, bit well, then add half the orange juice and beat again. Do the same with the remaining half flour mix and orange juice (and zest if you are using it). Beat the mixture until it is smooth. Stir in the cranberries and the nuts. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.

Make the Streusel
In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar, butter pieces and mix it with your fingers until it becomes crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the pan and stud with the pecan halves. 

Bake the cake for 40 - 45 minutes or until it is golden brown. Test with a toothpick to see if it is ready, if the toothpick comes out clean it is ready. 

Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then unmold and serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.


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