Spring for Alice Medrich’s Saucy Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake

Cranberry cake to make any day a holiday.

Spring cleaning so often turns up a belt you haven’t seen in ages or a pair of shoes buried in the back of the closet you forgot you even bought.

For me, it also means finding stashes I’d overlooked in the freezer.

Cranberries, for instance.

Every winter holiday season, I always freeze an extra bag or two of fresh cranberries so that I can have their bright sweet-tart goodness around just a little bit longer.

Recently while rifling around the freezer, I came upon just such a bag. Thank goodness, too, because it made it so easy to bake up a pan full of “Saucy Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake.”

This homey dessert is featured in the new “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts” (Artisan Books) by Bay Area baking expert Alice Medrich. The cookbook, of which I recently received a review copy, is full of fuss-free desserts such as “One-Bowl Vanilla Cake” and “Chocolate Pudding Pie.” I especially love the lists of easy tips, such as “10 Ways to Flavor Whipped Cream” and “Things to Do with Gingerbread.”

Imagine a giant moist, tender cornbread muffin baked atop a cranberry compote. That’s what this cake is like.

It’s scarcely sweet, what with the only sweetener coming from a little more than 1/3 cup of maple syrup that is simmered with the cranberries.

You add most of the cranberry mixture to the bottom ofร‚ย  baking pan, then pour on a batter of flour, cornmeal, egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Lastly, spoon the last of the cranberries helter-skelter over the top before sticking the pan in the oven.

Enjoy the cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a fluff of whipped cream for dessert. I like it as is for an indulgent breakfast.

This is my favorite type of spring cleaning — when you turn up a find that makes any ol’ day feel like a real holiday.

Big, plump cranberries that burst with sweet-tart juice.

Saucy Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake

(Serves 6)

For the filling:

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup (Grade B or Grade A dark amber is fine)

1/4 cup water

For the topping:

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup fine or medium-grind cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For serving:

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish that’s 2 inches deep, or a 10-inch glass or ceramic pie plate.

To make the filling: Combine cranberries, maple syrup, and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer; and cook for 3 minutes.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the berries, with some juice, to a small bowl and set aside. Pour remaining berries and juice into the baking dish and set in the oven to heat for about 5 minutes while you make the topping.

To make the topping: Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk egg, milk, butter and vanilla in another medium bowl. Add flour mixture and whisk just until blended. Remove baking dish from the oven and scrape batter over berries (without necessarily covering them all completely). Spoon the reserved berries and juice randomly over the batter.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cornmeal topping is golden brown, feels crusty, and springs back when you press it with your fingertips. Cool the pudding for 5 minutes or so before serving plain or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

From “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts” by Alice Medrich

More Cranberry Recipes: Asian Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries

And: Cranberry Coffee Cake

And: Zucchini, Carrot and Cranberry Muffins

And: Ming Tsai’s Cranberry-Hoisin Chicken ‘N’ Rice

And: Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream Sauce

Plus More Alice Medrich Recipes: Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares

And: Nibby Pecan Cookies

And: Sesame Seed Cake

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  • A fabulous cake! Fresh cranberries are so delicious.



  • You have the BEST recipes!! This sounds incredible. Like you I also stock up on cranberries. I went a little overboard this year, but couldn’t stand the thought of not having access to them. Glad my hubby hasn’t seen how many I have stashed away. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • What a pretty cake. Alice writes the best books and this one is certainly festive!

  • Carolyn, this cake sure looks delicious, like the vivid color of the cranberry and the tartness of it…and yes I want with a scoop of vanilla ice cream please!
    Hope you are having a great week ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Oh my goodness your cake looks delicious, Carolyn! I would probably have at least two servings of it. Have a great week, Carolyn!

  • What a terrific pudding cake studded with cranberries!

  • Love cranberries, gives desserts such a sweet zing. This cake looks fantastic!

  • I find random ingredients every time I open my fridge and I DEFINITELY have cranberries stashed in my freezer! Need to try this!

  • I love the fact that you would eat it for breakfast. Because reading through the ingredients the same thing crossed my mind! ๐Ÿ˜›

  • It’s funny, but yesterday (really!) I was rooting around in my freezer and found a bag of cranberries! It wasn’t a real surprise – part of me “knew” it was there – but I was a bit startled to find it at first. So this post must be a sign for what I should do with them! Really nice recipe – thanks for this.

  • This looks so yummy! Reading your posts this evening has really made me want to go to the store and get cherries and cranberries and come back and tackle this recipe and the cherry one also!

  • one of the magnificent things about cranberries is that they freeze so well–i still have a bag from the holiday season that’s just screaming to be used for something just like this. i love the berries along the edge–very nice!

  • Oh, I’m so jealous of your frozen cranberries! I had meant to do that, but then I ended up making ketchup with the leftovers I had after making cranberry sauce. This looks beautiful–I love that it’s sweetened with maple syrup!

  • I wish I had all these ingredients at home at the moment. This would make a sweet dessert tonight. Thank you for posting.

  • Love this recipe! However, the inside of the cake remained largely uncooked in my dessert. Do you have any idea why this is? The top was done (cranberry’s were getting very dark) but the inside was too moisty and undone ๐Ÿ™

  • Julia: Did you use the same size pan as indicated in the recipe? It also could be your oven, since every oven’s temperature is a little different. You could try baking it longer next time and if the cranberries or edges of the cake start getting too brown before the center is cooked through, just cover it with foil.

  • Thank you!! My pan was a little smaller, I think that was the reason – so am definitely trying it again with a larger one soon!

  • Tried this and it mostly tasted like cornbread with some cranberries in it. The cranberries were tasty, although I was 1/2 cup short on cranberries so maybe that was the problem. Definitely not a pudding texture. Maybe I baked it too long, although only an extra 2 minutes. And I forgot to sweeten the whipped cream. Ice cream may have been better. But mostly disappointed in this.

  • Carrie: I think because the cake to fruit ratio in yours was a little different, that’s probably why it was more cornbread-like. Granted, the corn flavor sings loud and clear no matter what. But with more fruit, it becomes less a wedge of cornbread and more a cake studded heavily with fruit.

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