The week before Christmas is insane. Dealing with the flurry and excitement of family traditions and obligations, spending too much on gifts and stressing over what to buy people, rushing to get christmas cards out all while trying to relax and enjoy a season that is supposed to be magical seems somewhat impossible. We hosted Thanksgiving this year, a holiday potluck with almost twenty people two weeks later, had a friend from out of town visit last weekend, and I'm currently neck-deep in grad school applications, and honestly this year we are just over it. My plans for homemade butternut squash ravioli on christmas eve are going to turn into Indian food take out. And I'm ok with it.
I've been projecting my exhaustion on my students this week by attempting to gift them with the 10-minute savasana, a rare gem in modern yoga classes and the ultimate christmas gift. It's something we could ALL use. Unfortunately I haven't been to a yoga class in over a month and I'm started to feel it big time.
But seriously, my husband has never been a big fan of Christmas, he's always been all about Thanksgiving - gratitude, celebrating with family and friends, opening your doors to everyone, and being thankful for what you have, no gifts necessary. And I'm started to think he's onto something, because really who needs to collect more junk? We don't. I'm trying to embrace this by making edible gifts and gifting simple practical things. When my brother told me he wanted glass storage containers for food, preferably used, for christmas I about hugged him through the phone. Have I mentioned my brother pretty much lives off the grid? We have become our conservative consumerist parents' nightmare. My mom called me the other day stressing over whether to make ham, prime rib, or salmon for christmas dinner. I honestly don't know what kind of answer she expected from her vegetarian daughter but all she got was a big laugh. I say all of this being totally guilty myself. I worry about giving people the perfect gift, I stress about getting christmas cards out to the people we care about in time, and I've been obsessing over a holiday Pinterest board for weeks.
So I'm posting this cake. Then signing off. Attempting to relax and take a break from standing over the stove. Let someone else cook for me, give grad school applications a break, and snuggle with my husband and my puppy. I hope you take some time to do the same. Maybe even go big and give yourself a 10 minute savasana. Then, if you have time, make this cake. It's simple, christmas-y and delicious. Rich dark chocolate and bright sour juicy cranberries become best friends and play beautifully together under the buttery pecan crumble sun.
I am so tired. Can you tell? Over and out. Happy holidays. Merry Christmas. Be well, my friends.
Dark Chocolate Cranberry Crumble Cake
Makes 1 large 9-inch cake
Adapted by Smitten Kitchen
For the cake:
2 cups minus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
8.5 ounces, or 2 heaping cups, fresh cranberries
7oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped
For the crumble:
5 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and cold
Heat oven to 375. Butter and lightly flour a 9" cake pan then line base with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter, sugars and zest until light and fluffy - around 5 minutes at full speed. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, pour in 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated, follow with 1/2 of the milk, 1/3 of the flour, the other 1/2 of the milk, and finally the last 1/3 of flour beating until incorporated between each addition. Remove bowl from the mixer and stir in cranberries and chocolate until evenly distributed- because the batter is super thick, I found using a wooden spoon worked much easier than a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth over the top.
Make the crumble. In a small bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, pecans and salt. Using your hands or a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembled chunky sand - there should still be small bits of butter. Sprinkle the crumble over the cake and cook for 40-50 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, flip to remove from cake pan and serve.
We left it at room temperature and like Deb says, it does get more moist the longer it's out. It was devoured within 36 hours, but she claims it will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature, after that pop it in the fridge.
December 2015 update: I tried it with Trader Joe's Gluten-Free flour and it was tasty but the cake didn't hold together when cut. The lack of gluten made things really fall apart.
Photography - our awesome neighbor came over the night I baked this and let me play with his camera. Needless to say it was far superior to my current camera which is an iphone...So if you're wondering why some of these photos look better than any I've ever posted that's why!