Cranberry Coffee Cake
I love coffee cake and I don’t discriminate. What I love most about coffee cake is how many different variations there are, from fruity, to crumbly, the combinations are limitless. I enjoy making coffee cakes that align with the season, as is the case here with this lovely vanilla cranberry coffee cake. Simple, flavorful, festive, and bursting with cranberry flavor.
Love them or hate them, no one knows for sure how or why cranberries became such an essential part of the Thanksgiving meal, but we do know they were popular among
Native Americans and the Native Americans were the ones who first introduced cranberries to the pilgrims all those many years ago.
Interestingly, Native Americans used cranberries in various dishes they made, but they also used them in other ways, such as to dye clothing, rugs, and blankets. They also used cranberries as a medicine to treat common indigestion.
Where Do Cranberries Come From?
Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America. Many people mistakenly believe that cranberries grow in water. Not true. Cranberries grow on bushes and long vines in sandy marshes called “bogs“. Bogs are one of North America’s most distinctive types of wetlands, an unusual ecosystem characterized by alternating layers of sand, peat, gravel, and clay.
When cranberries are ripe (usually in the fall when they turn a deep red color), farmers flood the bogs and the ripe cranberries float to the surface allowing harvesting machines to remove the berries from the vines easily. The floating cranberries can then be gathered in one area to be removed for processing.
Cranberries are a sought-after crop because they’re versatile and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. To meet the global demand, farmers must take extensive measures to keep their cranberry bogs in pristine condition to keep their crops strong. When done correctly, vines can last indefinitely.
Coffee Cake Fun Facts
Because I love coffee cake and history so much, I had to include some coffee cake fun facts.
- Coffee cake was not invented, it evolved from different types of cakes which have been around since biblical times.
- Historically, there are references/traces of coffee cake that can be traced back to the 17th century.
- In Europe, it became customary to enjoy a delicious sweet, yeast bread when drinking coffee.
- German and Scandinavian immigrants are believed to have brought coffee cake to America.
- Pasteurization in America following World War I is what led to the creation of sour cream-based coffee cakes.
- The hole in the center of many coffee cakes is due to the 1950s innovation of the “bundt pan” which allowed heavier batters to get cooked evenly all the way through.
So if you’re a coffee cake lover like me, looking for something seasonal, or just looking for something tasty to make and nibble on in advance of the much anticipated Thanksgiving meal, this lovely cranberry coffee cake is sure to please just about everyone.
Cranberry Coffee Cake
1 hour, 10 minutes
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Bourbon vanilla bean seeds or 1 vanilla bean scrapped
- 2 cups frozen cranberries, thawed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, of unsalted butter, softened, divided
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x2-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease the pan and the parchment, set aside.
- In a small bowl, add the sugar and vanilla bean and mix. Set aside
- Place the cranberries in the bowl of a kitchen mixer fitted with a metal blade. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar-vanilla mixture. Pulse on/off until finely chopped. In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well.
- In the bowl of a kitchen mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add 1/2 cup butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar and beat on high until well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Slowly add the flour mixture and milk alternating. Mix to blend.
- Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a rubber spatula to spread evenly. Spread the cranberry mixture on top of the batter leaving a small border. Spoon the remaining batter on top in small spoonfuls, using a spatula to spread out as best as possible.
- In a small bowl add the reserved 1/4 cup vanilla sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Blend the mixture with your fingertips. Spread over the top layer of the batter.
- Place in the oven and bake until set, about 50 minutes.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan. Once the cake has cooled, remove the cake from the pan and dust it with the confectioners' sugar. Slice and serve.