Leave it to My Mom

December 27, 2008


Well, friends, this is a little awkward, isn’t it? Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t so much as utter a ho-ho-ho here on this site. For that, I’m sorry. And I have excuses, too. Our flight was canceled on Tuesday night, leading (1) me to have a complete temper tantrum (one really more fit for a three-year-old who has just learned that Christmas might be stolen from her); (2) Kevin to vow to drive us to Minnesota (with hopes of mollifying said temper-tantruming wife); (3) me to shove at least three more outfits, two additional pairs of shoes, and an extra container of frozen Christmas cookies into a suitcase (last I checked our Subaru doesn’t charge per bag checked!); and (4) us to crawl along 94 up out of Illinois, through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. So the holiday was a little hectic and I hope you’ll understand the silence. In the end, we got here, safe and sound and entirely over winter.


Before all of this, though, on Monday night, my mom and I made a phone date to plan the menus for the weekend. We concocted some doozies—some of which you’ve seen before and others that will grace this page before the year is out. But if there was one dish about which I was unsure, it was this cranberry spice bundt cake, nominated by my mom for Christmas morning brunch.


You can accuse me of having a nasty flashback, or overdosing on cranberries in November and December, or—hey I know—being a brat to my mom. But, whatever you do, make sure you accuse me of being wrong. Because this cake is nothing like that sad, dry loaf I made back in November and it makes a strong case that fresh or frozen cranberries deserve a spot in your repertoire well into January.


This bundt bakes into a beautiful ring, drizzled with a shine of orangey glaze. It slices into compact wedges that are dotted with cranberries and slivers of toasted almonds. And the first bite will delight you, with its contrasts of flavors—sweet, lightly spicy, a little citrusy and sometimes tart—and textures—the moist, tender cake; the yielding, juicy cranberries; the bits of crunchy almond. It also reminded me that my mother is always right (in the kitchen, at least!).


Spiced Cranberry Bundt Cake
Bon Appetit by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour or almond meal* (about 2 1/2 ounces)
2 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder**
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup plain reduced-fat (2%) Greek-style yogurt
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 cup halved fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons (about) orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract, then Greek-style yogurt. Add dry ingredients; beat just until blended. Fold in almonds and all cranberries. Transfer batter to prepared Bundt pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.

For icing:
Stir powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons orange juice in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Mix in more juice by 1/2teaspoonfuls to reach consistency of heavy cream. Spoon icing over cake, allowing it to drip down sides. Let stand until icing sets,at least 30 minutes.

DO AHEAD: Can bemade 3 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.

* Sometimes labeled “ground almonds”; available at specialty foods stores and natural foods stores.

** A spice blend that usually contains ground fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves; available in the spice section of most supermarkets and online at penzeys.com.

9 Responses to “Leave it to My Mom”

  1. Lovely cake. So glad you did make it to Christmas even though it was an adventure to arrive!

  2. Robin Says:

    Glad you found a cranberry cake to love! I will be prolonging Christmas with this baby, can’t wait to bake it over my week off. 🙂

  3. culinarycory Says:

    Sounds like you had quite an adventure trying to drive through IL!

  4. Looks like a wonderful cake. I am glad that you made it to MN to see your family. I just got back to the Chi, only to have all the snow melt and it rain for what seems like 24 hours.

  5. nicole Says:

    So glad you were able to make it home safe and sound! Hope you had a lovely holiday.

  6. Maria Says:

    Love the looks of this one! Happy New Year!

  7. Melissa Says:

    The minute I saw the photo and the blog post title, I knew you were flashing back. Your mom rocks. But still, so do you! Glad you enjoyed your Christmas.

  8. eggsonsunday Says:

    I saw Dorie’s article with this recipe, and wondered if it would be good. How did you like the Five Spice Powder in it?

    Glad you made it safely and hope you had a lovely Christmas! -Amy

  9. Gretchen: Thank you!

    Robin: A week off? Swoon.

    culinarycory: Sure did. Better luck than people heading to Michigan though. I can’t believe the tollways were closed!

    whitney: Rain in December is just wrong.

    nicole: Thank you!

    Maria: Thanks! Happy New Year to you too.

    Melissa: Awww, thank you. Hope you had a good holiday too.

    Amy: I liked it. It was subtle, but definitely there, if that makes any sense.

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