Thursday, 11 December 2008

Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake

Today is a big day - a rare day off for hubby and my 17 year old son's variety show at school. He is in a school for the arts so the shows are first rate. (Think Fame with a little less psychodrama and a lot less violence) We were a little nervous when a cold or flu bug took his voice last week but he is much better now.
We have the few hours before hand to finish up any Christmas shopping and errands. We really mostly focus on the kids, but there are always things left to the last minute...
We try to avoid the malls as much as possible but last week I took the above son for some birthday clothes shopping (yes, he had the audacity to be born a few weeks before Christmas) and it wasn't too bad. I was particularly touched when, while trying out electric guitars and amps in the mall music store, he started playing Pachelbel's Canon. On the electric guitar. People stopped what they were doing to watch. I felt so proud, it was one moment that I was happy to be in the middle of the crowds.
To get the family into the Christmas spirit - and for a handy brunch treat - I made the Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake from this month's Gourmet Magazine. The use of a real vanilla bean makes this a wonderfully perfumed and special treat, and the layer of sweetened yet still tart cranberries in the middle make it seem so fresh and playful. It truly is incredibly tasty. I feel more Christmasy already.

Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake - Gourmet Magazine - December 2008
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 oz)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife (reserve pod for another use if desired). Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl.
Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not purée).
Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.
Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Top with remaining batter and smooth top.
Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining Tbsp each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble over top of cake.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up.
Cooks’ note: Coffeecake can be made 1 day ahead and kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.
Recipe by Melissa Roberts - Gourmet Magazine.