Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cranberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake with Streusel Topping . . .

Well, the tree's finally up and twinkling away, as are the Christmas lights outside. I baked what felt like twelve thousand cookies last week, and still have tons of dough leftover in case more(!) are needed. So, yes, progress is evident around here. But I haven't yet wrapped a single gift, nor have I sent out a single card; they're on the agenda over the next couple of days. In the midst of all this bustle, I somehow decided to experiment on Saturday afternoon with a coffeecake recipe, and the results were pretty yummy (or, if you prefer, "scrummy"--sort of short for scrumptious--as my Ireland-based baking-friend, June, would say). I was particularly pleased at this cake's staying power; even this morning, it was still very moist and good.

When you're trying to figure out what to serve on Christmas morning for breakfast or brunch, a homemade coffeecake that can be produced ahead of time, and that can be counted on not to dry out before it's served, is like money in the bank. I tried a little slice this morning to see how it was holding up, and I actually think it's improved with age. Don't you love it when something you've made does that?

About this recipe . . .

My version of this recipe has three key parts: the cakey base, the cranberry filling, and a cheese-cake-like creamy filling that you drizzle beneath and atop the cranberry layer. I took many liberties in adapting it from this lovely raspberry ripple tea cake that I found in A Bloggable Life.

I offer one caveat with this recipe. Were I to make this cake again (and I definitely would) I'd absolutely use a 9" or  10" springform pan with 2" sides, versus a 10" tart pan with 1" sides. Despite the pretty scalloped edge, it wasn't big enough. I had to trim off the outer edge of my cake when it came out of the oven because it rose over the sides (I neglected to take pictures of that little episode).

Cranberry Cream Cheese Coffeecake with Streusel Topping
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour, or coat with baking spray, a 9" or 10" springform pan (not a 10" tart pan; see my note in the blog post above regarding the need for a springform pan of this size).

Ingredients for the cranberry filling:

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Scant 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 Tbsp. corn starch
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. orange juice

Ingredients for the cream cheese filling:

6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Ingredients for the cake base and streusel:

2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (I used coarse kosher.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk, or 3/4 cup plain yogurt that's been thinned with a tablespoon or two of milk

To make the cranberry filling:

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and spices on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until it starts to thicken. In a very small bowl, mix the corn starch with the 1 and 1/2 Tbsp. of cold orange juice; stir until it looks completely smooth. Pour it slowly into the hot cranberries, stirring constantly. Raise the heat a little and keep stirring slowly until the mixture noticeably thickens up. Cook another minute or two. Take the pot off the heat and set it aside to cool.

To make the cream cheese filling:

Beat the softened cream cheese for a couple of minutes, on low speed, until smooth. Add in the lightly beaten egg. Gradually pour in the sugar, still on low speed; beat for a couple more minutes until completely smooth. Set aside.

To make the cake batter and streusel, and to assemble the cake:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and sugar. Using a hand held pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the biggest lumps are no larger than peas. Scoop out 1/2 cup of this mixture and set aside; this will be used for your streusel topping.

Into the large bowl add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring to distribute evenly. Hollow out a well in the middle of the bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together lightly the egg, and the buttermilk or thinned yogurt, whichever you're using. Pour this into the dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten and combine. The batter will seem pretty thick.

Spread 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, nudging the batter up the sides just a bit to create a rimmed effect (easiest if you use a small offset spatula, or the back of a spoon). Drizzle half of the cream cheese filling over this.

Spread all of the cranberry filling carefully over that, being careful to keep it away from the sides of the pan. Drizzle the remaining cream cheese filling over the cranberries, again avoiding the sides of the pan.

Now, gently spread the remaining batter over the top, all the way to the sides, then sprinkle on all of the streusel.

With the pan placed on a cookie sheet, bake the cake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or more, until the top looks lightly golden.

Let the cake cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove the sides of the pan. Let it finish cooling while still on the springform pan's base, placed on a rack.

Stays nice and moist for two days or more if well-covered.

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