When asked what part of cooking I enjoy the most, I immediately reply “baking.”
I have enjoyed baking since the first time I entered the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1963. My Tropical Coffee Cake (later named Tropical Cake) won me a trip the the Bake-Off that year in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Baking is a good avenue for creativity. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with new recipe ideas, some of which come to me in unusual ways. My latest idea came to me just as I was about to drop off to sleep one night.
I was thinking about how much I like fresh apple cake and wondering how I could make it even better when cranberries came to mind. Of course, fresh cranberries were out of the question because they are only available during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I opted to use dried cranberries but didn’t want to just stir in a few. Then I thought about the flavored flour I developed about 30 years ago and decided to see if I could make cranberry flour.
The first time I used flavored flour I was trying to improve my fruitcake. It worked so well that I started making other blends. Since that first experiment, I have made chocolate flour, peanut butter and chocolate flour, almond flour, butterscotch flour and a few others that were not as popular.
I combined some flour with the cranberries in the food processor and processed the mixture until the cranberries were almost as fine as the flour. What I like about using flavored flour in this cake is that rather than getting a bite of cranberries every now and then, you get a hint of cranberry flavor throughout the cake.
As the cake baked, a wonderful aroma permeated the house. I could hardly wait to cut into it and check the texture and flavor blend of the cranberries and apples. I was not disappointed. It was moist and delicious.
CRANBERRY APPLE CAKE
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
⅓ cup softened butter
1 ¾ cup sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and cubed Winesap or Rome apples
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a Bundt or tube pan. Combine 1 cup of the flour with the cranberries in the food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Process until the cranberries are almost as fine as the flour. It’s OK if some small pieces of cranberries remain. Combine this mixture with the remaining flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat until well mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until blended. Stir in apples. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cake plate.
Note: I have found that wrapping the cake in aluminum foil while it is still warm will make it even more moist.
Email Prudence Hilburn at email@example.com