There's something I don't understand. I don't understand why we don't take more notice of the cranberry. Why it appears in November for Thanksgiving, then inexplicably drops off the face of the earth for the rest of the year, especially since cranberries are harvested in September and October. In hindsight, I should have put out a notice back at the beginning of the holiday season to grab a few bags and freeze them, since they freeze so exceptionally well. Then, when it's dark and gray and there isn't a bit of mood-lifting tartness to be had, you can pull them out by the handful and defrost only the ones you intend to use.
I've been hawking this recipe all over town. Because it's easy. Because it's beautiful. Because it redeems the cranberry from mere relish status, moves it over to the center of the plate for once. No longer the maligned little sister to the attention stealing turkey. If, however, you're kicking yourself for passing up bags of these ruby jewels a few months ago, this cake has been made with blueberries to great acclaim. Of course, that leaves the problem of finding blueberries.
This is a rustic dessert, so don't expect perfect slices. Just embrace the mound of cranberries and cake that falls onto your plate. When it's cool, a thin layer of craquelure forms on the top, ready to shatter then dissolve.
The recipe comes from Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking where it's called Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Evidently in Nantucket, they're a bit confused about distinctions between pies and cakes. Or maybe distinctions just don't matter when the outcome is this good. After all, we're all about breaking down barriers with this one.
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
From Laurie Colwin's More Home Cooking
2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
Spread the cranberries, walnuts and 1/2 cup sugar in the bottom of a 9" or 10" cake pan (or skillet or anything else you might have lying around). Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl to form a batter. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and bake in an oven preheated to 350 for around 40 minutes. Cool a bit in the pan, and enjoy.
* Pecans would also be good instead of walnuts
* This is a rustic dessert, so don't expect perfect slices. Just embrace the mound of cranberries and cake that falls onto your plate.