Monday, November 7, 2016

Cranberry Apple Coffee Cake

You know the universe is conspiring against you when, after a month of nothing, you finally pull together a small lump of material for a humble blog post and your internet provider experiences widespread outages. Great.

But I think the waves are rolling, now, so I’ll tell you about the latest version of the simple coffee cake I keep coming back to. This one has cranberries and apples and enough oatmeal to make it feel like it’s part of a complete breakfast.

I love how the pockets of cranberries keep this cake from getting too sweet, especially after the recent Halloween overload. (After it was all over, I found two more bags of candy in the closet that hadn’t even been opened yet!) The cranberries also make this cake kind of pretty, as their jewel-toned juices bubble up through the crumble topping. While I love that crumble topping, you could leave it out and save some time and/or calories, depending on your priorities.

Even when I get a weekend off, I never seem to be able to pull together anything like an elaborate brunch, but this cake is a quick one, so it can help make the weekend special without too much fuss. It’s also good for dessert and stays moist and appetizing for a few days, so leftovers will be welcome.

Someday, maybe my life won’t be quite so messy, with a day-job schedule that makes me feel like a real human being. Until then, let me eat cake! Take that, conspiring universe!

Cranberry Apple Oatmeal Coffee Cake

For the topping
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch fine salt

For the cake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1. To prepare the topping, combine the 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, cold butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Work in the butter pieces with a fork or with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and forms clumps when squeezed together. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be made a few days ahead.)

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan or dish with cooking spray or grease it with butter or oil.

3. To make the cake batter, melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Set aside to cool.

4. In a medium-size bowl, combine the 1 cup flour, rolled oats, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Whisk together to combine well. Set aside.

5. In another medium-size bowl, lightly beat the egg. Slowly whisk in the melted butter. Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract.

6. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until most of the dry ingredients have been moistened. Stir in the apple and cranberries.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top.

8. Bake at 350 F for 40-45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to cut and enjoy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 9-16 servings.

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