Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sally Schmidt's Cranberry Apple Kuchen

We've established that I have gone literally months - *months* - without cooking.  Life is busy, deadlines, work, lawyer, blah, blah.  We all get busy sometimes.  Mine led to no cooking.

By November, I was really starting to have French Laundry withdrawals.  Four months without using my round cutters or chinois!  Four months without making a new flavored oil!  Four months without worrying about accidentally setting my kitchen on fire!  So, I insisted on having people over for Thanksgiving.  It was a long, hard fight; I won.  We had a small crowd (six people), so I stuck to traditions: turkey, mashed potatoes, grilled veggies, stuffing.  I threw in one unusual item: pumpkin-thyme rolls (which were a giant hit).  

And, I managed to seamlessly add a dessert from The French Laundry Cookbook.  Since we didn't have cranberry sauce, since no one coming over really loved pie (except me and angry toddler), I decided apple-cranberry cake would be a perfect way to end the meal.  It was.  And easy to boot.  I actually managed to prep it and cook it during the five hours that it took me to do all of Thanksgiving dinner.

The mis.  Notice something unusual about this picture? 

If you said 'granite counters, so that must be your new kitchen'... dingdingding!  Good observation skills.

Next I peeled, sliced, and cored some apples.

To make the batter, I creamed some butter, sugar, and an egg, then added flour and baking soda.

I spooned that into a cake pan (or in my case, really a cheesecake springform pan, which is nice because it releases easy but can turn out poorly for a bunch of reasons I dont understand.  I used it because it was the only cake pan I had that was anywhere near the right size) and arranged the apples in a pretty ring.

Sprinkling cranberries is fun!

With cranberries arranged around all of the edges and center.

Then I dusted with cinnamon/sugar/possibly nutmeg (I have no recollection of that, but looking back at my mis I see nutmeg and milk, which must have been in the batter)

Forty-odd minutes later, it emerged from the oven all beautiful.  And without any natural light to make a pretty photograph, and with people who had just finished dinner clamoring for a bite.

I whipped up the hot cream sauce - which was basically fat, more fat, and a different form of something that will make you fat (ie, cream, butter, and sugar).

The cake was delicious, although I wished that I had used a slightly smaller cake pan, since the batter part of the cake seemed a little thin.  It was a little tart without the hot cream sauce.  The dessert-hater crowd was happy about that, since (1) they could pretend like it was healthier and (2) it wasn't really sweet.  The hot cream sauce brought the sweetness up a tinge, and soaked through the batter to almost make it like a tres leches cake.

I thought it was delicious both ways.  It definitely reheated better with the cream sauces as breakfast (and maybe lunch... and dinner) the next day.  The combination tart-sweet seems like it would be a good holiday cake or like a nice cake in the summer, when its hot and you don't want to feel weighted down by something super sugary.  It just occurred to me that cranberries are near impossible to find in the summer though - so maybe its more of a September/October in San Diego cake (when its still hot, but we like to pretend its fall.)  Just find a time to make it.  It will take less than an hour, including cooking time, and will get rave reviews.  

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