It's funny how our tastes change as we grow older and develop more sophisticated palates. I remember trying a sip of my mom's coffee when I was younger, immediately scrunching up my face in disgust. How could so many grown-ups drink something so horribly bitter-tasting?, I wondered. Fast forward 20-something years, and my day doesn't officially start until I've had my oversized mug filled with strong, freshly-brewed coffee and frothy steamed 1% milk.
About that same time, my older brother swore that he would never, ever, become a coffee drinker. Knowing a sure thing when he saw it, my dad bet him that he could not get through college without drinking a cuppa joe. Unfortunately for my brother, his college years occurred right about the time when the Starbucks craze started converting us into a nation of overpriced latte fanatics. Otherwise, he might have had a fighting chance. I mean, pre-Starbucks, you never really heard of anyone needing a Folgers fix, did you? (No offense, Folgers.)
Red red wine also falls into this category (darn-now I have that song running through my head!) At some point, I can't remember exactly when, I recall asking either my mom or my dad if I could try a sip of their Cabernet. Even after the tiniest sample, I thought that it was about the most vile and unpleasant thing that I had ever tasted. Nowadays, believe me, my opinion could not be more opposite. Of course I drink it because of its antioxidant properties........
Oddly, I have only grown to appreciate cranberries over the past ten or so years. We never really had them around the house growing up, at least not that I can remember, but whenever I did try them, I found them to be too bitter or too sour. I'll stick to my blueberries, thank you very much. These days, I can't get enough of the nutrient-packed red fruit. I buy dried Craisins in bulk during bimonthly Costco runs, adding them to granola, salads, and pilafs. During the seemingly short time that the fresh ones are in season, I purchase several pounds, freezing them for use in chutneys, breads, and sauces throughout the year. This recipe, which can really be served as a breakfast treat or a dessert, makes great use of the fresh cranberries' tart flavor, a contrast to the sweet streusel (who doesn[t love streusel?), cake, and glaze. The bright, festive color of the cranberry topping makes this dish a perfect addition to a holiday spread. Here are a few extra tips for this streusel-topped treat:
- The coffee cake can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days.
- If you want some extra texture in the filling, then add a handful of dried cranberries along with the orange juice and the rest of the ingredients.
- If you do not have a spring-form pan, then you can make this recipe using a tube pan, so long as the bottom is removable and the cake remains upright after baking (in other words, you don't need to invert the cake to remove it from the pan.)
- This recipe would work well with fresh or frozen blueberries too. Replace the orange juice and zest with lemon juice and zest.
- If you want to make a glaze for the coffee cake (as in the photos), then whisk together 2 cups of confectioners' sugar with enough orange juice to yield a mixture that can be drizzled decoratively over the cake. Glaze the cake after it has cooled, and let the glaze set for 10 minutes prior to serving.
Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake
For the batter
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
For the filling and topping
2 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
½ cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup light brown sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg until well combined. Beat in the two egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches, alternating with the sour cream and mixing well after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared spring-form pan, smoothing the top.
Prepare the filling and the topping: In a medium bowl, stir the cranberries with the orange juice, zest, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, pepper, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Spoon this mixture over the batter in the pan.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, mix the chilled butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the topping over the cranberries.
Bake the coffee cake for about 1 ½ hours, until the cranberries are bubbling and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.