FOOD: Orange Cranberry Cakes for Mabon!

Mabon celebrates the autumnal equinox, when day and night are equal, and this year in the northern hemisphere it starts on September 21st, ending September 29. That’s the extent of witchy knowledge dropping for you today because my practice can best be described as Lazy AF. While orange and cranberry aren’t necessarily second harvest foods like squash or apples, making this always helps me feel like fall is near, even though it’s still way too hot outside. This is a pretty versatile recipe and can be made in a loaf pan or muffin tin. Because I’m me, I like any excuse to use my NordicWare skull cakelet pan.

This pan makes six big-ass mini cakes. It’s awesome.

There are three parts to this and two are optional, depending on how you want your cake. It’s a coffee cake consistency, in between a bread and a light dessert cake. First of all, grease whatever pan you’ve chosen to use and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

The first part is optional but why would you not: Streusel topping! You need a small-medium bowl large enough to cut butter into the dry ingredients.

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter

You don’t need a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients; you can slice in opposite directions with a butter knife in each hand until it all looks nice and crumbly. Put the bowl in the fridge while you take care of the next part.

The second part is not optional (it’s your batter!) but you can still customize some things to your liking. Use a large mixing bowl for the dry ingredients and a medium bowl for the wet ingredients. I know, you are pulling out ALL the bowls from the cupboard. First the dry bowl…

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (no, baking powder is not the same thing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries

Look here, cooked fruit haters! I am one of you! If you want to leave them out and just make an orangey coffee cake you can totally do that. But I actually find chopping up the cranberries nice and small gives a tart little flavor surprise. I don’t hate it. But they have to be chopped up small, you savages – no one wants a big burst of squishy cranberry. Today, I only used @1/2 cup because that’s what I happened to have in the freezer. I usually buy 2-3 bags around Thanksgiving when they are on sale and freeze them for whatever during the year. Usually smoothies or this cake. So don’t fear the cranberries. I suppose if you have Craisins in the house you could chop some of those up instead. You do you. Now the wet bowl…

  • 1 egg (seriously, don’t ask me what size, just get a damn egg)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or because no one really keeps buttermilk around, use almost one cup of milk with about a teaspoon of lemon juice and let it sit @10 minutes so some curdling happens)
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I use canola)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could also use orange extract or orange juice – I use a mix of Penzeys orange extract and dried orange peel because I love Penzeys)

You are first going to whisk the egg and two sugars together, then you can add the rest of the wet stuff. Pour the wet bowl into the dry bowl and mix gently to get the major lumps out, but don’t over-mix. As if I would even know what that means, because I can’t figure out how I can get lumps out without over-mixing. Do the best you can, and if you want to infuse your cooking with good intentions (love, good health, prosperity), stir in a clockwise motion. I probably should have started out telling you that, but I’m going to believe no one is going to try a recipe without reading it all the way through first. That’s a cooking tip from a Kitchen Witch (of which I am not one; I already told you I’m a Lazy Witch).

Depending on what type of pan you are using, you are going to place your streusel topping from the fridge in first or your batter in first. If you are using a loaf or cake pan, batter in first. If you are using some weirdo muffin or cakelet pan where the cool design in on the bottom (which will eventually be the top), you are going to put the streusel topping in first.

Cooking time also varies based on your pan and your oven. A loaf pan can be 45-60 minutes, depending on how deep your pan is. I would set a timer for 40 minutes to start with and keep checking after that so you don’t burn it. My skull cakelet pan took only 25 minutes. If you have the topping on top, try to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil halfway through so you don’t burn the good stuff. If you are going to glaze the finished product, be sure to let your cake cool completely first. This is especially important if you are going to remove your cake from the pan before glazing.

Successful cooled skulls with streusel topping that was placed on the bottom.

Glazing your cakes is another optional thing, and there are a ton of simple recipes to do this, but today I just used a mix of milk and powdered sugar, with a hit of vanilla. You could also use one cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Simple glazes abound on the Interwebz if you do a quick search but the two above work just as well. I like to glaze by placing my cakes over a wire rack which has a lined pan underneath, but you could also just dip the tops in the bowl of glaze as well. Enjoy!

Fresh skulls waiting for their glaze to dry, if they last that long.

About deepfriedyankee

I am a parade of one. A seeker of bathtubmarys. A lover of Mardi Gras, bacon and marbles. I have the patience of a saint. A very, very flawed saint.
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