My May-December Romance

Don’t start blushing and getting worked up into a state of shock.

This is no confession about any affair with a much younger or older man.

Instead, it’s my declaration of my unabashed May-December relationship with fresh cranberries.

The winter holidays come and go in a flash, and with them, those lovely, jewel-like sweet-tart berries that we gorge on in sauce, chutney, breads, scones and cakes only at that time of year.

But months later, even as the days grew sunnier and warmer, I end up missing them, even longing desperately for them.

So I do what the food editors of Sunset magazine do. Because of their crazy far-in-advance deadlines, they often find themselves having to test cranberry recipes in the summer. So, they got to stashing bags of fresh cranberries in the freezer for months on end. I decided to do the same and haven’t looked back since.

The beauty of this is that my lode of cranberries I put in the freezer in December can be pulled out later in May to enjoy in such treats as this “Cranberry Coffee Cake” from the December 2009 issue of Cuisine at Home magazine.

A good cup of fresh cranberries gets pulverized with sugar, and orange zest and then incorporated into the cake batter like swirls of fuschia-hued jam. Another 1/3 cup of dried cranberries gets mixed with butter, flour, sugar, pecans and more orange zest to make a crunchy, sweet streusel topping.

The cake bakes up easy in one big pan, and emerges tender, sticky, crunchy, buttery and shot through with deep cranberry flavor.

Now, that’s one love affair that’s bound to last.

Cranberry Coffee Cake

(Makes 16 servings)

For streusel:

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons minced orange zest

For cake:

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 1/4 cups sugar, divided

Zest of 1/2 an orange

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon EACH table salt and ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges to create handles; spray again.

Melt 1/2 stick butter; stir in the 2/3 cup flour, pecans, dried cranberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons zest; set streusel aside.

Pulse fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar and zest of 1/2 an orange in a food processor; set aside. Whisk together 2 cups flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together eggs and egg yolk; set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream 3 sticks butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl.

Add flour mixture and egg mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of the batter to prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and remaining batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries; top cake with streusel.

Bake cake 55-60 minutes; cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 367 cal; 22g total fat (13g sat); 98mg chol; 184 sodium; 41g carb; 1g fiber;  4g protein

From Cuisine at Home, December 2009

More: Bakesale Betty’s Banana Bread with Cinnamon Crumble Topping

More: Roasted Banana Muffins

More: Blueberry Coffee Cake

More: Ad Hoc’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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  • that is a mighty high coffee cake. don’t mind if i do. and what a perfectly sliced “slice”.

  • I could eat fresh cran^berries all year around! That coffee cake looks amazing!



  • I do the same thing! I just found a recipe for pumpkin bread with cranberries that I am going make.

  • Pulverised cranberries with orange zest – sounds awesome. As for freezing bags of fruits…I only wish I had a bigger fridge.(but don’t we all)

  • this is a fun and delicious way to serve cranberries that are so rich in nutrients and good for UTI…

  • Looks gorgeous. I have to admit I’ve never been a strong cranberry fan, but this sounds quite tasty!

  • Oh, you’re in love with cranberries! Wish I could try your cake now…yum, yum.

  • Oh no, now you’ve got me craving cranberries! I should have done what you did and froze some cranberries last winter. Now I have to wait several months before I can try this recipe! I love coffee cake (but don’t make it too often) so I’m going to try this with blueberries.

  • What beautiful romance…haha!! Your cake looks fabulous….so much goodness there. But I just wonder whether you missed out the coffee in the ingredients.

  • I like to freeze cranberries too–they’re so great in cakes and desserts. I like the idea of using both dried and fresh berries. That cake is simply gorgeous, wish I had a piece right now…

  • I’m a huge fan of fresh cranberries and with coffee mmm the cake is magnificent, can I move into your house? 🙂



  • That’s thinking! I need an extra freezer for just this kind of thinking. I’d love to have some fresh cranberries right about now, and your coffee cake looks delicious.

  • You have a gorgeous blog! And what great timing–I just found a bag of cranberries I stashed away last Thanksgiving, now I know exactly what to do with it.

  • I have a bag of fresh cranberries in the freezer! Your coffee cake looks and sounds amazing!

  • hehe I wasn’t sure what I was going to read Carolyn! I was talking to the editor of Donna Hay about those crazy months ahead deadlines. The funny thing is that our opposite seasons means that you can get people here to test things and vice versa so they often get stories shot in the US as it works well with the timings 🙂 So if you want me to test anything… 😉

  • this is most definitely my kind of love affair. all those sappy romance movies can take a cue from you–cake is where it’s at! this looks great, and frankly, it makes me wish i had some cranberries in my freezer.

  • I have this exact same love affair going on right now…and I have to say cranberries make me way happier than any of the men in life have recently. My freezer is seriously stocked with them! Which just means I’m going to have to make this cake….which looks fantastic. I love your blog!

  • I love this! I bought a huge batch of cranberries last season and didn’t find any recipes that grabbed me, other than some salad dressing ones–I’m definitely bookmarking this recipe for next year.

  • I have to say that I love cranberries all the time–dried in my salads, fresh cranberry sauce around the holidays, and of course, mixed into coffee cakes like this. Looks lovely….makes me nostalgic for Thanksgiving. What a beauty!

  • Great idea to freeze the cranberries! The coffee cake looks amazing!!!

  • This coffee cake looks amazing! I love the fresh cranberries and also the dried cranberries and pecans in the streusel!

  • I bet this would be amazing with rhubarb!!

  • This cake looks amazing!! I bet it would also taste great with cherries. YUM!

  • Wish it was with me rather than Sunny’s craberries! lol!

  • Exciting, great to have someone like you who appreciate a delicious dessert! 🙂

  • Those swirls of cranberry really make this cake a showstopper! Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

  • Oh how I wish I had remembered to stash some cranberries in the freezer. Guess I’ll just have to wait until fall. But I could always make this cake with blueberries. It looks delicious.

  • Another amazing treat, I love cranberries in all their forms but usually only have dried until Thanksgiving.

  • This coffee cake sounds amazing! I love the coffee flavour, must try this!

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