It Led Me On

November 18, 2008


It’s been a while since I’ve posted a disappointing recipe, and this one was a real heart breaker. It’s not that there haven’t been less-than-stellar results in my kitchen lately. Oh, no, there have been more of those than I care to share. There have even been good recipes gone bad (just ask my friend Gena about my fairly disastrous take on this recipe which ended in one u.g.l.y. birthday cake). And there have been bad recipes that I can’t fix. I’m not sure which camp this recipe, for cranberry coffeecake, falls into, but I can tell you that it takes the cake (pun intended).


You see, this recipe led me on. I had been looking for a good holiday breakfast recipe (I don’t know why; I can bet my bottom dollar that my parents’ pantry will be bursting with an astonishing array of Woulette’s delectable pastries when I’m home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas) and this one had so much promise. It enticed me with visions of a holiday morning, mug of coffee in one hand and a thick slice of this garnet-swirled cake in the other, fat snow flakes drifting down outside. And, well, I fell for it.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)


As I set out to bake the recipe, my crush only deepened. It was just so fun. I got to whiz up a couple handfuls of shiny cranberries with a shower of granulated sugar. Next, I mixed up a standard coffeecake batter, butter-and-vanilla laden and beaten into satiny folds. Then, then!, I spread some of the batter in the bottom of my trusty loaf pan, topping it with a thin layer of the sweetened, minced cranberries. I allowed myself a minute to swoon over just how gorgeous the cake was looking at this point. Then I covered it up with another layer of batter. And, because the first time around was so fun, repeat with another layer of cranberry and, finally, a top layer of batter.


Now, at this point, my hopes were sky high. How could anything so decadent (a whole stick of butter! nearly two cups of sugar! a couple eggs for good measure!) be bad? How could anything so beautiful go wrong? How could something as foolproof as a quickbread flop?


But bad it was, wrong it went, and flop it did. It was dry and flavorless and (by far worst of all) the thin cranberry layers which were supposed to bake into pretty red swoops and swirls through the sliced cake instead came out as a sad, splotchy mess that hardly showed up at all in some slices. I felt so duped. So used. So cheap. This recipe: it led me on.


I wish I could tell you that I was at least engaging in love-sick-gal remedies: sappy movies (I’m picturing Jake Ryan, cross-legged, leaning across the dining room table to kiss Samantha Baker, sixteen candles flickering in the background), ice cream out of the carton, turning the radio dial to a station that specializes in slow ballads. But, instead, I’m on a mission. I will find a new cranberry crush. Just you wait and see.

Recipe here, for the heartbreak prone.

19 Responses to “It Led Me On”

  1. rachellake Says:

    I’ve been making a half batch of this recipe for years, and it is delicious…,1818,151184-250205,00.html

  2. eggsonsunday Says:

    Oh, so sorry to hear about the recipe heartbreak. I know you’ll find a new one soon, though! There are better “recipes” in the sea. šŸ™‚

    This cranberry orange quick bread is a staple in our house around the holidays – it’s super moist and not-too-sweet.

  3. Pearl Says:

    I’m sorry your recipe didn’t turn out as great as you hoped šŸ˜¦ – it still looks absolutely beautiful, though šŸ™‚

  4. sue bette Says:

    Ah! This is the heartbreak with baking, there is just no way to make a quick fix. Best of luck on your next round!!

  5. canarygirl Says:

    We all have fails in the kitchen! Look at me! lmao Sorry this one didn’t work out. It’ll be better the next time. šŸ™‚

  6. Rachel M. Says:

    I’m sure you checked this, but is your baking powder fresh…

    This happens to me when I start baking again in the fall…old baking powder…not so good…

  7. GS Says:

    Sorry about the heartbreak cake. I say we smear butter on that thing and gobble it with hot cups of tea!

  8. It still looked beautiful!

    I tried this cranberry-nut recipe (it looks similar Amy’s suggestion) a few weeks ago and it really is a winner.

  9. Ellen Says:

    I thought I commented on this last night, but maybe it didn’t work.

    This spiced cranberry cake looks beautiful and unique, and I’ve been dying to give it a try!

  10. Gena Says:

    I don’t know much about this cranberry thing, but leave my birthday cake alone. It was g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s. and glorious. Of the 28 birthday that have been baked/bought in my honor-this was the best.

  11. hungrydru Says:

    Wonderful pictures, thanks!

  12. Dawn in CA Says:

    Bad coffecake, BAD! You should know better than to disappoint Kristin, who gives only love and the best ingredients to her recipes. šŸ˜‰

    Better luck next time. How about a lemon pound cake with part of the batter mixed with some of that cranberry/sugar mixture, then swirled into layers before baking? And maybe leave the cranberries a little wetter?

  13. Monica h Says:

    I’m not trying to rub it in, I promise, it’s the coffee cake’s fault not yours…but why does your cake look so different from the one on the recipe website?

    I’m convinced that the recipe people post pictures of good recipes then post bad ones just to upset people and send them into a bad coffee cake mode. I hate when that happens!

  14. Robin Says:

    I feel like it’s weird to use cranberries chopped up with sugar – maybe they wanted it to be quick so they didn’t suggest you macerate the cranberries?

    Boo to bad recipes! But yay to you for moving on so quickly! šŸ˜‰

  15. Thanks, everyone, for the sympathy and suggestions.

    Rachel Lake, Amy, Whitney: Thanks for the links! I’m excited to try again.

    Gena: You’re too kind. Also, yay for Alex making the chowder. He sounds like a catch—you should probably marry him in a couple weeks. : )

  16. Ellen: I just fished your comment out of my spam filter. (Your other one was in there too.) Sorry about that! Thanks for the link! Looks great.

  17. Lynna Says:

    Ah I saw this picture when I was reading your blog and thought “wow this looks great, and I have some cranberries I need to use” but after reading about your disappointment, I too was disappointed.

    You have great pictures though even if it’s a sub-par recipe!

  18. Melissa Says:

    Funny that it led you on…

    …and yet it was so beautiful on Photograzing. šŸ™‚

    Sorry it wasn’t what you had hoped!

  19. Chris Says:

    I’ve had problems like yours – but sometimes it still tastes okay with butter and some glaze helps- as long as it still is nicely baked and not raw…

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