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January 2005 Issue
Cooking New American
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Cranberry Streusel Cake

Add the topping 40 minutes into baking rather than at the beginning, when it would sink too far into the cake, or at the end, when it wouldn't sink in at all.

For the cake:

  • 9 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, well softened at room temperature; more for the pan
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
For the streusel:
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
Make the cake -- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch-square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt until blended. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Using a wide rubber spatula, alternately fold the flour mixture and the yogurt into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the chopped cranberries with the last addition of flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 40 minutes.

Make the streusel -- While the cake is baking, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix, using a fork, until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.

After the cake has baked for 40 minutes, sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake. Continue baking until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, another 10 to 15 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm or room temperature. Cut into squares and serve.

  • Yields: 9 servings
 

 

Ginger-Mascarpone Icebox Cake

Delicious on its own, this cake is also lovely paired with some bright-flavored fruit, such as blueberries or slices of mango or peach.
  • 12 ounces gingersnap crumbs, about 2 1/4 cups (about 40 cookies)
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup sugar; more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup minced candied (crystallized) ginger
  • 1 pound mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray or grease it lightly. Dust with a little sugar and knock out any excess. Rub the gingersnap crumbs and butter together with your fingertips to combine. Sprinkle half over the bottom of the pan and pat down evenly; reserve the rest.

With an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and candied ginger until smooth. Add the mascarpone and cream and whip until the mixture is thorough combined and just holds peaks. Carefully spoon half of the mascarpone cream over the crust, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan.

Sprinkle half of the remaining crumbs over the mascarpone cream in the pan. Top with remaining mascarpone cream and finish with the remaining crumbs. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

  • Yields: 12 servings
 

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