The Cranberry Conundrum

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

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.

Ging-Molasses-Carrot Cake with yogurt



Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, recipe

4 responses to “The Cranberry Conundrum

  1. Rachel H.

    This reminds me of a cranberry sauce question I’ve been meaning to ask you. I was thinking of trying your goat cheese cheesecake recipe, but with a more seasonal cranbery sauce instead of cherry. I have no experience with balsamic vinegar in desserts or with cooking cherries in general. Could you suggest a balsamic vinegar-cranberry-sugar ratio that would make a sauce with similar sweetness to the cherry-balsamic one you used? Or maybe I should skip the vinegar because cranberries don’t need added tartness?

  2. Oooh, great idea – but for some reason the cranberry/balsamic mixture doesn’t ring true on my virtual palate, either. What if you smeared a layer of cranberry sauce (maybe a cup?) into the middle of the cake, dropping it by little spoonfuls and spreading it around gently after you’ve put half the batter in the pan and then topping it with the rest of the batter? Funny thing you mention goat cheese and cranberries . . .I was just noticing the cranberry-flavored goat cheese at Trader Joe’s and thinking of putting that in a pork loin . . .

    Ooh, maybe if you warm up the cranberry sauce a little, it would spread better?

  3. Jess: I like the idea of picturing you guys ‘wolfing’ down breakfast:).

    Hey, made your lamb chop recipe from a few days back, with bread crumbs and pecans. It was an instant hit with the family—a ‘keeper.’

    So thanks!

    Maybe I will post on it, if I can rip myself away from doddling over my website remodel… soon, very soon…

  4. Sarah

    Usually I squirrel away any cranberry sauce leftovers to have on my pancakes for weeks and weeks to come. I even buy an extra bag of frozen cranberries during the frozen-cranberry-in-supermarket season, just so there can be cranberry sauce at other times of the year. This recipe will happily shorten a leftover cranberry sauce duration soon. Can’t go wrong with ginger, carrot cake, and cranberries. Very exciting. Thanks, Jess!

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