I think most of us have a collection of family recipes; scribbly-written and faded index cards that hide in our cupboards. Those tried-and-true dishes that were a trademark of our family dinners growing up. Recipes that bear the splatters of previous cooks - the ones who jotted notes down in the margins, describing those small changes made by each generation, sometimes for new cooking methods, or ingredient availability ("Sour Salt? Where the heck can I find sour salt?").
I call these my "Grandmother Recipes", and I treasure them: Sweet & Sour Cabbage Rolls, which as a young child I loathed, but now adore. Mini cheesecakes - so deliciously creamy - but smacking of 1950's cooking shortcuts. The guarded recipe for my family's cheese blintzes, passed from one generation to the next, and NEVER shared with outsiders.
One of my favorite recipes, written in my nana's fine handwriting, is an Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake. This cake feels like a "Grandmother Recipe". Allegedly created by my great-grandmother, it still pairs perfectly with strong tea and good conversation. This is a dessert that my nana & mother made often, and I have continued the tradition.
This holiday season, though, I thought "why not mix it up?". Take the old recipe, and make it the base for something new. Add some chocolate, maybe some cranberries... I can see it coming together in rich-and-tart heaven. But when I tried it out, well it just didn't work. Don't get me wrong, the cake was tasty, but it wasn't anywhere near the special cake of my childhood. It was good, but not great. I learned to leave a beautiful family recipe alone.
It was time to create my own "Grandmother Recipe", and I think it has worked out pretty well! Starting from scratch, and researching ratios & measurements, I took inspiration from my great-grandmother's lovely sour cream cake and created something new. Chocolatey, with a hint of cinnamon, and bursts of tart cranberries, it's a dense, sweet cake with a lovely crumb.... I hope that in the decades to come, my 3 boys (yes, baby #3 is another boy - Do you like how I snuck that in?) and my grandchildren can look back at this recipe for Chocolate Cranberry Bundt Cake and think of me working in the kitchen, feeding the ones I love.
I also want to take a moment to wish all of my readers a Happy New Year! We will be ringing in 2016, with cheese fondue and champagne! Cheers!
Chocolate Cranberry Bundt Cake
makes one standard sized bundt cake
2 cups all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons (for coating the cranberries)
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (I like to use Ghirardelli brand)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 cup full fat sour cream
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
baking spray with flour or butter & extra cocoa to prep your bundt pan
powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Prepare your bundt pan either with baking spray or a quick rub with a tablespoon of softened butter and dusting of cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Gently mix with a fork.
Wash and dry the cranberries. Place in a small bowl and gently stir in the extra 2 tablespoons of flour until the berries are coated (it keeps the cranberries from sinking through the batter!). Reserve.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed, until the color has lightened, and the mix has increased in volume. Next, lower the speed to medium and add each egg one at a time, until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and sour cream. Blend until combined.
You will now add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. I like to do this in three separate batches. Blend between each addition. Remove the bowl from the stand and fold the cranberries into the cake batter by hand.
Next, distribute the cake batter evenly into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth the top and give the pan a couple of thumps on a cutting board, to get rid of any air pockets.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before inverting onto another rack to cool completely.
To finish, simply dust with powdered sugar.
This cake keeps best under a covered cake stand to maintain its moisture level.