Sunday, September 27, 2015

Cranberry Black Walnut Coffee Cake

Because black walnuts have such a strong flavor, there are not a lot of recipes that use this ingredient. Using this type of nut in a recipe does require the proper balance of flavor, which involves a lot of trial and error. The other consideration is the development of flavor over time. Cookies, for instance, are usually in the cookie jar for a few days before they all disappear.

When I saw this recipe, I was deliberating about using English walnuts instead of the black, but I am glad I chose the black. The black walnuts provided a perfect amount of subtle flavor that was well matched with the cranberry and cinnamon. The moist cake, warm cranberries and crunchy streusel really hit the spot.

I would say that eating things that remind us of the fall makes us happy. The flavors conjure up thoughts of the holiday seasons with family get togethers, sitting in front of the fire and cool crisp days outside. Sometimes we all need an attitude adjustment and a slice of this coffee cake may just be the key-especially on a Monday morning.

Cranberry Black Walnut Coffee Cake
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
2 inches stick cinnamon
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts (black or English), toasted and ground

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (black or English)
1/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small cubes

Start by making the cranberry topping.  Fill a saucepan with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, cranberries, stick cinnamon and apple juice (or cider).  Place over medium high heat and stir constantly, letting the mixture come to a boil.  When the sugar has dissolved, lower the heat and let simmer.  As it simmers, the liquid will reduce. It will take about 15 minutes of cooking for the cranberry topping to reach the correct consistency. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick. Set the mixture aside and let cool completely before using, this is your first bowl.

Grease the interior of a 10 inch springform pan and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. For the second bowl, sift the cinnamon, flour, salt and baking powder in to this bowl. Add the ground nuts,granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Stir so all is evenly distributed. Also, set this bowl aside.

Proceed to making the streusel topping by combining the cinnamon, flour and brown sugar together in a small bowl, the third bowl. Add the cubes of butter and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the sugar mixture. Once no dry streaks remain and mixture can easily clump together, stir in the walnuts.

Get your second bowl and make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Take out a 4th bowl. Crack eggs into this bowl and beat with a fork for about 1 minute. Mix in the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Pour this egg mixture into the well of dry ingredients in the second bowl. Stir until blended and mixture becomes a batter.

For assembly, pour the egg batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top so it is even. Spoon the cranberry mixture (from the first bowl) over the top of the batter, leaving a 1 inch border. Lastly, sprinkle with the walnut streusel topping.

Place pan in oven and let bake until edges are golden brown. Cake will start to pull away from edge of pan when done. Bake time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing the outside ring of pan. Slice and serve warm.
                                    **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Liqueur Suicide Cheesecake**