Since you already know Too Much about me (i have an oversharing problem), I might as well let you know that I am HEREBY on a diet. I’m also going to let you know that I fucking hate diets with every bone in my body (i’m sure i am the only one who feels this way), and I only resort to them when I feel they are necessary. And here’s how that necessity was confirmed:
Me: I can’t bake anything tonight, because then I’ll eat it. And I’m on a diet.
My grandmother: You know, I wasn’t going to say anything. But now that you say it, I can say you could lose maybe 5 or 10 pounds.
Eastern European grandmothers. They are great at 2 things: 1) making dumplings 2) making you feel like you are too fat to ever eat another dumpling again in your life. Ever.
It is true that every time I come home after being away for a significant amount of time, my grandmother will size me up. I’ll walk in, give her a hug, and she’ll take a step back and say “let me look at you.” So then she gives me the once over and declares her conclusion, which is usually something like this: “You gained half a pound.” “You lost 3/4 of a pound.” And the scary thing is, she is usually RIGHT. Anyway, I’m not sure why this time she withheld her judgment about my weight. Maybe it has something to do with the OTHER conversation my grandmother’s broken english always finds its way to: Do you have boyfriend?
Since the answer in the past has usually been yes, she might’ve given me a break since in her eyes I am now 26 (AND A HALF) and alone and also apparently 5 POUNDS HEAVIER AND MOST LIKELY I WILL DIE ALONE AND NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE ME.
What this has to do with this cake, friends, is this: Don’t make this cake for yourself and your family if you are on a diet. Because you’ll THINK that, no big deal, you can make a delicious cranberry cake and not want to eat half of it on your own. But you’ll be wrong. Because you’re always wrong. And alone. And 5 pounds fatter. And here, eat these dumplings and this fatty duck and watch me pour lard into every aspect of this meal and then serve it to you and then whisper how you really need to get your “figure” back.
God bless the holidays.
Cranberry orange cornmeal cake
Adapted from pastry chef Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon via Sassy Radish
2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided (i decreased this to 1 cup plus 2 tbsps. no regrets. but i like things not too sweet)
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups cranberries, divided (i increased this to probably over 3 cups, and i’d even add more. MORE)
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round by 3-inch tall cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt and zest. Mix just until thoroughly combined; do not overmix.
4. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the butter just until combined.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add one-half of the flour mixture to the batter and quickly mix for 5 seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the rest of the flour, the ricotta and one-half of the cranberries. Mix the remaining ingredients into the batter over low speed just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
6. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining cranberries over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.
7. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Place a loose piece of foil over the top of the cake if it starts to darken. Cool the cake on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.