Inspired by a 1926 New England cookbook, this delicious Cranberry Orange Festival Cake is easy, affordable, and perfect for traveling!
Susannah Locketti: Every year, I turn to cookbooks far and wide for inspiration on developing new recipes for Thanksgiving. This year, I happened upon a 1926 cookbook called "Better Homes' Recipe Book," by Marjorie Mills. It was a cookbook published by the Boston Herald Traveler, and a test kitchen on Tremont Street in Boston served as home base for all of the recipe-testing that went into the cookbook. The forward describes women of all types sharing their New England culinary wisdom over the aromas of freshly made food. I can just imagine the scene!
The cookbook is very old and filled with newspaper clippings from the 1970s, recipes from family swaps, original leaflets from old Reynolds Wrap and Pyrex products, recipes typed on vellum paper and handwritten recipes on the backs of old envelopes and scratch paper. These scraps are usually where you find gold when digging for recipes!
The one recipe that caught my eye was a typed recipe on vellum paper for a Cranberry Festival Cake. I imagine the cake got its name after being served at many cranberry festivals held throughout Massachusetts -- we have bogs everywhere here! The ingredient list is simple, yet I updated it for a healthier treat based on what I had on hand in the house. The original recipe calls for shortening and whole milk. I substituted olive oil and skim milk. The result is a super moist cake bursting with chopped tart cranberries. I added a modern twist by throwing in orange zest and finishing it with a cost-effective glaze made with the juice from the orange and some leftover powdered sugar in the pantry.
You can make this as a cake, cupcakes or in a bundt pan, which is what I chose. It slices well, travels even better and is reminiscent of the New England women who carried on a tradition of thrifty yet tasty quick breads perfect for Thanksgiving. It is also whipped up in a single bowl, which I LOVE. My taste-testers gave this recipe a perfect score. I would love to hear what you think!
Â½ cup olive oil
1 cup white sugar
Â¾ cup skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 Â½ tsp baking powder
Â¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped frozen cranberries
1TB orange zest
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Juice from fresh orange
Orange zest to garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a bundt pan with nonstick olive oil spray. In a large bowl, add oil through vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined. Sift flour through salt twice and add to wet mixture, stirring just until moist. (You can skip the sifting, but I love the way it adds a light and fluffy texture to the cake.) Batter may appear lumpy. Fold in the cranberries and zest, and spoon batter into bundt pan. Bake for 50 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least fifteen minutes before removing from the pan. Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar and enough orange juice to form a thick yet smooth glaze. Glaze the top of the cake while still warm and top with remaining orange zest.
I recommend making a double batch during the holidays -- you never know when unexpected company is coming and you'll need an impressive yet easy treat on hand. If you are freezing the cake, frost only after it thaws.
|Susannah Locketti is an on-air chef and lifestyles personality discovered by the Food Network. Susannah is a mother of two boys who specializes in low-cost approaches to food and home. She is currently working on her first cookbook.|