When I planned my meal from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?, I was curious to see just how easy the recipes would be. So far this week, they haven't exactly been effortless, but impressively not labor-intensive. The last hurdle, and the course that usually provides the most difficulty is dessert. More specifically, baking. Baking can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned cooks, and is rarely easy. I decided to try this Easy Cranberry Apple Cake for two reasons. First, it had the word "easy" in the title and second, apples and cranberries add up to a fantastic fall dessert.
As far as cakes go, this one is a breeze. The batter, which is almost coffee cake-like, comes together in a stand mixer in a matter of minutes. It's layered on top of apples and cranberries that have been tossed in brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, and zest. While the cake bakes the fruit cooks down and forms a wonderful sweet-tart bottom, somewhere in between a cobbler and a tarte tatin. Sprinkling a little cinnamon-sugar on top of the batter gives the crust a light crunch and a bit of sparkle. How easy is that? is the question that Garten poses in the title of her newly released cookbook and after cooking a week's worth of her recipes, I have to say, the answer is pretty damn easy but even more importantly, incredibly tasty.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of How Easy Is That? to give away this week.
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.
Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.