It seems as the winds change their tune and the leaves rustle into dust, we all rush outside for the season’s last potlucks, picnics and pumpkin patches. Every week brings a new opportunity to gather around the table in shared enjoyment of fall flavors.
And this is the best of flavors – crushed cinnamon apples, pommes plucked from a tree and sprinkled with autumn spice. Ruby red cranberries bursting in hot sugar. Vanilla speckled custard lavishly poured on top, baked into a light cake bursting with the first fruits of the season.
Each recipe holds its own special story. Delicately uncovered in a vintage cookbook, spine fading with the passing of time, or accidentally discovered within the glossy pages of a shiny new release. This particular find is of a newer varietal, from a classic Barefoot Contessa vintage, a perfect candidate for pleasing a table full of sweet tooths after a lovely picnic outdoors.
I often wonder how Ina dreams up such vivid creations. There’s an element of simplicity lovingly tucked under buttery cake and sugary apples. An appropriately named Easy Cranberry Apple Cake from her cookbook How Easy Is That? She believes you will love this recipe so much that she highlights how very easy it is…twice! Melt some butter, add some flour, fold in a bag of cranberries and by golly we’re on our way!
How flattering it must be to have a random stranger not just enjoying your books, but sharing one of your homemade recipes in celebration of the art of entertaining – shared dishes, happy faces, fires on the grill, condiment spreads and napkins held safe by paper plates. Here’s to fall, but above all, cheers to potlucks with good friends and picnics with beloved family!
- 10oz fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1½ tablespoons orange zest (from approximately 1 orange)
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon orange juice (from approximately 1 orange)
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1½ sticks of melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter a 9 x 13 pan and place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into the chunks. Quickly pick over the cranberries to remove any forgotten stems. In the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, combine the apples, cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, light brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until well combined. Using a spatula, scrape the cinnamon apples, cranberries and all the juices into the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan spreading them into a thin flat layer.
- Using the same Kitchenaid mixer bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and 1½ cups sugar until pale yellow, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla, vanilla paste, sour cream and salt whisking until well combined. Next, gently fold in the flour and melted butter until a thick and creamy batter forms. Gently pour on top of the cinnamon apple cranberries, smoothing into a thin layer.
- Finally, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar in a ramekin and generously sprinkle on top of the cake to create a lovely cinnamon streusel-like topping as it bakes. Mmmm!
- Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester tests clean at the center. Delicious!