12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 12: Cranberry Orange Streusel Cake

Is there anything more Christmasy than the combination of orange and cranberry? From scones to muffins, cookies to cakes, it’s a flavour combo that works well. This recipe comes from one of my favourite blogs, The Yellow Table. I love loaf cakes because they are easy to carry around and make a great gift, too.

Unfortunately,  I don’t have a better picture- I baked it and sent it across for a family dinner and it was eaten before we could get a good picture. The streusel is really nutty and delicious- I like the fact that it’s a flourless streusel, so the flavour of the walnuts really shines through. I didn’t have fresh cranberries so I used dried cranberries instead. And I mixed in a little butter with the streusel, because butter makes everything better 😀

CRANBERRY ORANGE STREUSEL CAKE (From The Yellow Table.)

INGREDIENTS

For The Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

For The Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 175 C. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf tin and set aside.
  • Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl for the streusel. Work in the cold butter with your fingers, till it resembes damp sand, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Stir in the cranberries, toss to coat.
  • In another separate bowl, cream the sugar, butter, and egg.
  • Add the zest and juice, stirring to combine.
  • Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir till no streaks of flour remain in the batter. It is quite a thick batter.)
  • Pour the batter into the loaf tin. Sprinkle with streusel topping.
  • Bake at 175 C for 35 to 40 minutes or until the streusel topping is nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire before serving.
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12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 11: Spiced Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Banana bread is a favourite with me. Since I don’t have access to raspberries and blueberries and nice berries in general, banana bread is my standard fruit cake. The Joy Of Baking recipe was my go-to for a long time, until I was initiated into the world of brown butter via Melissa Clark’s blondie recipe.

This one comes from Joy The Baker, and it’s called brown butter banana bread. I like it because it doesn’t require creaming butter, just folding the wet and dry ingredients together. And the brown butter adds a lovely colour and a nutty taste.

I wanted to Christmas it up a little, so I added every possible spice I could- cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and a hint of cloves. I decided to pack it all in, with a healthy dose of walnuts. And I drizzled some caramel sauce over it too, because aren’t bananas and caramel a gorgeous match?

SPICED BANANA BREAD (Adapted from Joy The Baker.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk ( I used some yogurt thinned with water)
  • 1 1/4 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to to 175 C.
  • Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will start foaming and bubbling.
  • When the foaming and crackling subsides, the butter will begin to go brown.
  • When the butter browns and start to give off a nutty aroma, pull the pan off the heat and set aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder and clove powder and walnuts.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Add the mashed bananas and whisk. Then whisk in the cooled brown butter.
  • Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients all at once.
  • Fold everything together till evenly combined and no streaks of flour remain in the batter.
  • Pour batter into greased loaf tin.
  • Bake at 175 C for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack and unmould.

12 Weeks Of Christmas | Week 9 : Vegan Amazon Chocolate Cake

I’ve always maintained that one can never have too many chocolate cake recipes. And this one, apart from being super simple, is also dairy and egg-free: yes, a vegan chocolate cake that is actually very good.

I found this via  Food52’s Genius Recipes column, and I have to admit, it is pretty genius. I’ve tried my hand at vegan cakes before, but many recipes I’ve found online require ingredients that aren’t easily available here, like almond milk. And I don’t want to make almond milk from scratch just for a cake. This cake requires none of the above, and is really economical, too. Just flour-sugar-cocoa-water-vinegar and baking soda, with a touch of vanilla.

So I read through the recipe notes and it says that this isn’t “the richest, most chocolatey cake,” and adds that you can add some coffee instead of water. So I took 1 tablespoon of water from the 1 cup and dissolved 1 tsp of instant coffee in it. And I added another ingredient- almond meal, because I’m a sucker for almond meal.

Like the recipe notes says, it’s not a decadent, rich, Nigella-like cake. But it’s pretty good, and great for those times when you are craving a piece of cake with no eggs or milk in sight. Plus, it’s a great option if you need to bake a cake for someone who follows a vegan diet or is allergic to dairy and eggs.

MARGARET FOX’S VEGAN AMAZON CHOCOLATE CAKE (Adapted slightly from Food 52.)1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tablespoons neutral oil (like corn, canola, or vegetable)
  • cup cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/8 cup almond meal (optional)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

METHOD

  • Heat the oven to 180 c. Grease a 9-inch round cake tin and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Sift everything once to ensure there are no lumps.
  • From the one cup of water, remove one tablespoon. Dissolve the instant coffee powder in this one tablespoon of water in a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining water, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and coffee mixture.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into dry and whisk well. If the batter is lumpy, whisk until smooth, or pour through a strainer in to a bowl and break up lumps.
  • Fold in the 1/8 cup of almond meal, and mix well.
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter several times to pop air bubbles.
  • Bake at 180 C for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed gently/toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool before removing from the pan and dusting with powdered sugar if desired.