Creaming butter into sugar is like watching alchemy happen.
The butter starts out distinct. Fatty. Yellow. Chunky.
The sugar is fine. Sweet, sweeping sand.
Together, they become a paste, a smear that sticks to the walls of the mixer. I reach in and scrape down the sides. Keep mixing.
Let it get thick.
Air whips in. The butter and sugar become voluminous. The mixture changes from light and sunny to a luscious ivory color.
Now, eggs. Vanilla, dries, yogurt. Suddenly- a cake batter!
Here, we mix the batter with fresh cranberries. Seasonal, tart, little pops of berry that break up the smooth, sweet landscape of cake.
Don’t forget the jam. Still fresh from the stovetop. A thickened mixture of clementine, cranberry and cointreau, it is swirled into the cake and dolloped around the fresh berries.
Messy yet wonderful.
In the oven, more alchemy. The cake rises. The top crackles. The air comes alive and seduces you.
This is a pound cake. Buttery rich, plush and studded with cranberries, swirled with a jam that takes on a candy like edge as it cooks.
This is a pound cake. And this is its alchemy.
Yield: 1 loaf cake, serving 8
Why I love this cake: a rich, buttery, pound style loaf cake is filled with tart, fresh cranberries and flavored with lemon zest, then swirled through with a quick cranberry and clementine jam. Plush and jammy, this cake’s sweetness is broken up by the tart bits of cranberry and is textured with a crunchy sugared top and drizzled with a bit of lemon icing.
Notes: to seasonally update this pound cake, simply swap the cranberries for an equal amount of whatever berry is in season. To update the jam, do the same thing and omit the clementine and cointreau.
For the cranberry clementine jam:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 clementine, peeled
- 2 tablespoons Cointreau
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
For the loaf cake:
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, washed
- 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the jam: In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the fruit has broken down and the texture is thick and jammy, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Make the cake: preheat oven to 350°. Line a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Toss 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture with the 1 cup of cranberries.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add vanilla and beat to combine.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and yogurt, starting with the flour mixture, until just combined. Fold in the lemon zest and fresh cranberries.
- Transfer half of the batter to prepared pan and smooth the top. Dollop with 2 tablespoons of the cooled cranberry jam and use a butter knife to swirl it around a bit.
- Top with the remaining batter and dollop with the remaining cranberry jam and swirl. Sprinkle top of cake with the 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar.
- Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 55 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Pop it out of the pan and let it cool completely.
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Drizzle over cake.