Pretty in Pink for Valentine’s Day: Cranberry-Creme Fraiche Bundt Cake

Who wouldn't want to enjoy this beauty on Valentine's Day?

Just gaze at this vision in pink.

If ever there was a cake made for Valentine’s Day, “Cranberry-Creme Fraiche Bundt Cake” is it.

If you’re like me, you know to hoard a few extra bags of cranberries in your freezer even after the winter holidays. If not, you can easily buy them in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

They’re the key to making this girly frosting. And they provide a hidden filling of bright, sweet-tangy berries in the middle of this cake.

The recipe is from “Cake Simple” (Chronicle Books) by Christie Matheson, a cookbook author who splits her time between San Francisco and Boston.

For those of you who aren’t into spending hours making and decorating elaborate cakes these days, this book is for you. The more than 50 recipes are all made in Bundt pans, either regular-sized or mini ones. That means no layers to bake separately, then frost individually before assembling.

Matheson includes recipes for everything from “Maple Nut” to “Lemon Basil” to “Mojito.”

Creme fraiche stirred into the batter makes this cake extra moist and fluffy in texture. You can make your own using the included recipe or take the easy route by buying a tub at the grocery store.

A simple cranberry sauce made with whole berries gets made on the stove-top in 15 minutes, before cooling and being swirled into the cake batter.

You reserve a little of the fuchsia-hued sauce to incorporate with confectioners’ sugar to color the glaze a brilliant candy-pink. The only change I made to the recipe is to reserve 4 tablespoons of the cranberry sauce for making the glaze. Originally, it called for only 1 tablespoon, which I didn’t feel was quite enough to get the frosting to spreadable consistency.

The cake is both sweet and a little tangy. A hidden layer of chopped almonds lends a surprise hit of crunchiness, too.

The cake is such a show-stopper that it’s hard to believe how utterly straightforward it is to make.

Mums the word.

A sweet-tangy filling of fresh cranberries and toasted almonds awaits.

Cranberry-Creme Fraiche Cake

(Serves 10-12)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup creme fraiche, store-bought or homemade (see recipe below)

Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce (see recipe below)

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Cranberry Glaze (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush inside of a 10-cup Bundt pan with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour. (Use a pastry brush to help distribute the flour and tap out the excess.)

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the creme fraiche (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until just combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl half of the cranberry sauce over the batter. Pour remaining batter over cranberry sauce and then swirl the remaining cranberry sauce over the batter. Sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Creme Fraiche

2 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine heavey cream with buttermilk, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature (in a warm room) for at least 8 hours. Stir the mixture — it should be thick and creamy. If it hasn’t thickened completely, cover the mixture again and let it sit in a warm place for another 2 to 3 hours and check it again. When it has a nice, thick consistency, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Whole Berry-Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces fresh cranberries

3/4 cup water

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cranberries with the water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt, and cook for about 15 minutes (after about 10 minutes, remove about 4 tablespoons of the liquid for the cranberry glaze), or until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has reduced. Let the sauce cool completely before using it in the cake. The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cranberry Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1-4 tablespoons cranberry juice (reserved from making cranberry sauce)

Mix confectioners’ sugar, almond extract, and cranberry juice in a small bowl until smooth.

Recipes adapted from “Cake Simple” by Christie Matheson

Other Valentine’s Day Recipes: 10-Minute Mocha Pots de Creme

And: Strawberry Kefir Panna Cotta

And: Cocoa-Marzipan Pound Cake by David Lebovitz

And: Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake

And: Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Crackly Crust

And: Guinness Brownies

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