The cranberry conundrum is this: You’ve picked a cranberry sauce recipe for Thanksgiving, and you know it’ll be good. You know you don’t really need that much, but you hate the idea of only having one tiny bowl that has to be passed down the table each time anyone takes another slice of turkey. So rather than parsing it out into shot glass rations for your guests, you make a double or triple batch. Everyone’s happy; there are healthy-looking bowls of it all over the table.
Then in February, you open your refrigerator, and wonder what could be in that sour cream container?, and yes, there’s your three-month-old cranberry sauce, still waiting for you. What a waste of all that stirring and popping.
As I was flipping through Cooking Light the other day, I happened upon a recipe for ginger cake that intrigued me. Applesauce, it said.
Or cranberry sauce, maybe?
I started playing, straying from the recipe, as usual. First I substituted my leftover cranberry sauce for the applesauce, which gave me a mixture that didn’t seem headed for anything other than red velvet cake. Hmm, pink cake, I thought. Weird. But molasses soothed the batter into a much less garish shade, so I kept going. I substituted whole wheat flour for some of the regular flour, maxed out the ginger, skipped the author’s other spices, and added pre-shredded carrots and milk, instead of boring old hot water.
The cake came out a gorgeous mahogany color, and perfectly flat on top, to boot. But dinner beckoned, so I left it there to cool. This morning, we scooped Greek yogurt on top, and wolfed it down for breakfast. No trace of cranberry.
Update: My camera (who I’ll call Nellie) has decided to extend her vacation. (She’s at rehab in L.A.) Tito’s camera “works,” if “working” means it takes photos, but really, we aren’t getting along so well, me and his little Pentax. I say focus there, and it refuses. I shove the focal point too close for comfort, and it says no, you idiot, you’re not supposed to be that close to the food. We struggle for much to long before we find a shot we can both agree on. It’s killing me softly. If you pray, please pray for Nellie’s health. I miss her.
Ginger-Molasses-Carrot Cake (PDF)
Recipe 320 of 365
Based on a recipe by Anne Kotchek, published in Cooking Light’s November 2007 issue, this relatively low-calorie, low-fat cake (two tablespoons of oil!) is a great way to sneak leftover cranberry sauce out of the refrigerator. Yup, you read right: it’s moistened with the same stuff you put on your turkey. You could serve the cake as dessert, with ice cream or whipped cream, but I liked it best for breakfast, topped with a big scoop of Greek yogurt and sprinkled with ground ginger.
TIME: 20 minutes prep
MAKES: 12 servings
Vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce (chunks are okay)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk
3 packed cups store-bought shredded carrots (or 2 cups if shredded by hand)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9”x13” pan with the vegetable oil spray, and seat aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, cranberry sauce, and oil until well blended. (Yes, it will be pink. Don’t panic. The cake will not be pink. In fact, you won’t even taste the cranberries.) Add the eggs, whisk to blend, and stir in the molasses.
In another bowl, whisk the flours, flaxseed meal, wheat germ, soda, ginger, and salt to blend. Alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk to the molasses mixture until all of both have been added. Stir in the carrots and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it springs back when touched lightly in the center. Cool completely in pan. Cut into squares to serve.