Still not over cranberries yet? Yeah, me neither. I always find it really hard to let go of the festive season come January. Not just because I really dislike the month, but I find it very difficult to get back into a routine, to be thrown back into a tiresome world of all work & no play after such freedom & rest. I think that’s why I like to hold on to the festive feels for a little bit longer via my food (that & I usually buy in an excess of the good stuff).
Diets just aren’t me (as I’m sure you’re aware by now), January is miserable enough without depriving myself of the few things we can enjoy in a Covid world right now. This month my diet will still be crammed full of cheese, chocolate, nuts & stuffing as we plough our way through the rest of our stores.
One of the things I always buy in excess before Christmas though are cranberries. Not just because I adore their tartness but also because they have a very short-lived season on our supermarket shelves here in the UK, or at least they do in our tiny part of Wales anyway! I’m determined to attempt to grow my own this year, for a guaranteed supply (providing I don’t kill it at least!).
I’m not sure if it’s the sharp flavour or the welcome bright pop of colour that they bring in the middle of winter that I love so much, either way they usually find their way into my bakes at this time of year. Bring so tart in nature makes them a versatile little berry to experiment, giving you greater control over how sweet you take in a recipe. From sweet tarts & pies, curds & chutneys, cakes & muffins or even muddled in a good gin (trust me).
Usually, I either pair cranberry with a rich, sweet or a citrus flavour to bring out the best in them, my favourite pairings by far are orange, chocolate or a strong cheddar cheese. Today, I bring you a chocolatey pairing, a simple, rich & moist chocolate sponge, filled with fresh, bursting cranberries & topped with a lightly sweetened cranberry puree & even more chocolate. Chocolate & cranberry cake, it’s like Christmas never left.
CHAI SPICE CAKE
(makes one 1.5 litre (10 inch) bundt)
For the cake:
- 240g plain flour, plus a little extra
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 100g cocoa powder
- 400g caster sugar
- 240ml yogurt
- 240ml freshly brewed coffee
- 120ml rapeseed oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150g cranberries (you can also use 200g of dried cranberries instead)
For the topping:
- 100g cranberries
- 50ml water
- 70g caster sugar
- 20g chocolate shavings
- Grease a large 1.5 ltr bundt tin
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder, salt cocoa powder & caster sugar
- In a separate bowl or jug, beat together the yogurt, coffee, oil, eggs & vanilla
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients & pour in the wet ingredients before whisking everything until thoroughly combined
- Toss the cranberries with a little flour before adding to the bowl & folding them through
- Pour into the prepared bundt tin and bake at 180C for 50- 55 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean without any crumbs attached
- Remove from the oven & allow the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes before removing it & leaving to fully cool on a cooling rack
- To make the cranberry topping, pop all of the ingredients into a small saucepan & gently simmer over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved
- Once you can no longer feel any grains of sugar, increase the heat for around 5 minutes, until all of the cranberries have popped & started to break down
- Use a hand blender or pop in a food processor & blitz everything until smooth, you can add a little more water to the mixture if you think it needs it
- Pour the cranberry puree over the top of the cake before sprinkling over the chocolate shavings