Monday, December 21, 2009

Bonus Test Kitchen: Cranberry-Maple Pudding Cake

So you might remember in last week’s test kitchen, I had to buy cranberries for garnish in my Maple Sugar-Ginger Roast Pork. While it made the dish pretty and festive, I had a whole bag of cranberries in my refrigerator.

Not wanting to let the cranberries go to waste, I looked for a recipe that featured cranberries. That’s when I found this Cranberry Pudding Cake recipe that I clipped out from an old Bon Appétit magazine. I remembered the photograph of the bright red cranberries against the yellow cornmeal-like pudding that really made this dish look enticing. So I thought I’d make that as a bonus test kitchen.

The recipe makes 6 to 8 servings, but I wasn’t about to eat all that myself since I had to use heavy cream. (And I’ve pretty much pushed the limits on my cholesterol during this holiday season.) So I cut back the recipe and instead of making a whole baking dish of cake, I used two soufflé cups for individual servings.

You can find the recipe on the Web site. And this is how it went in my kitchen.

I started off by cooking the cranberries along with maple syrup, heavy cream, and grated orange peel. This pretty much sounds like the beginnings of a classic cranberry sauce, but it’s going to be a filler for the pudding/cake. I only had to simmer the cranberries for about a minute (I guess because it’ll cook more in the oven).

After whisking together the dry ingredients like flour and cornmeal, I whisked one large egg with the sugar.

Once that was done, I slowly added the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and got something close to cake batter.

Now I assembled my cranberry pudding/soufflés by putting some of the cranberry mixture into each of the soufflé cups. Then I topped them off with the cake batter. I placed them on a baking sheet and put the whole thing in a 400° oven to cook for about 28 minutes, or until golden brown.

Here it is piping hot out of the oven. It was a little bit more than golden brown but it still looked pretty appetizing. You can see that the cranberry underneath had bubbled up and made much mess along the sides. Afterwards, I thought it probably would have looked nicer for the presentation if I had dropped the cake batter in clumps so that some of the cranberry juices could bubble up in between from the center. Something to consider for the next time, I guess.

The recipe calls for topping the pudding cake with either whipping cream, crème fraîche, or vanilla ice cream. I had whipping cream in the refrigerator so that’s what I used, and you can see the warm cranberry pudding cake was melting the whipped cream as I tried to quickly take the picture.

Just from looking at the cake, you can’t really tell its cranberries other than the hint of red along the edges. So here’s a picture of a spoonful of the bottom of the cake that’s supposed to be the pudding part.

In the end, the cranberry pudding cake was a nice, warm dessert. Except I thought the cranberry portion tasted a bit tart. It probably would’ve been better to add some sugar when cooking the cranberries and not just rely on the maple syrup. I couldn’t even taste any maple syrup flavor. I’m not sure why they call this recipe a pudding when it really is just a cake with a gooey center.

Still, it was pretty easy to make and can be a very quick dessert or sweet breakfast dish the morning after Christmas. Enjoy!


julie k said...

Can I come live with you?

Carolyn Jung said...

Also, don't forget that cranberries freeze really well. In fact, Sunset magazine often works on stories six months ahead of time. So the folks there learned long ago to stock up the freezer with fresh cranberries come November, so that in June, when they're working on Thanksgiving recipes, they actually have cranberries to use.

Single Guy Ben said...

LOL, Julie, if only you could squeeze into my studio.

Carolyn, thanks for the freezer idea. I never knew that, but I guess it makes sense!

SteamyKitchen said...

LOL cuz pudding sounds better than gooey center! ;-)

merry xmas honey!

Sean said...

Ooh, this is so my kind of dessert. And I prefer my cranberries on the tart side. So, if you've got any leftovers ....

Hungry Dog said...

This looks great--nice photos, Ben! I might have to try this recipe, though I would follow your suggestion and add some sugar--cranberries need it! Really looks beautiful and festive.

Palidor said...

Whipping cream is our friend, you know?

Chef Ben, I want to wish you and your family a very happy holiday! I hope 2010 will be filled with joy and happiness for you.