Like Pie on Cake ❦ Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013

As a food blogger and recipe developer, I take my inspiration from myriad sources. Sometimes it’s something I see at the market, or what’s ripe in the garden, perhaps a snippet of food-related conversation that caught my ear, a cooking show, or a persistent memory of something I’ve eaten. Recently, I was fired up with inspiration over a slice of coffee cake I enjoyed at my favourite coffee shop, the Black Walnut Bakery Cafe.

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013

I drop by there several times a week. Often I just get a coffee to go, but sometimes I take a book and linger over coffee and one of their baked-from-scratch treats. Oh man, can those people make pastry! I have no shame in admitting that I’m a flaky pastry snob, and I’ve raved about theirs to anyone who’ll listen (I have tolerant friends). The crusts of their swoonworthy butter tarts shatter most satisfyingly into a shower of flakes when you bite into them (avoid wearing black). And did I mention they use real butter and no preservatives? Makes me haaappy.

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013

Recently, there was something new in the bakery case, a coffee cake topped with apple slices, cranberries and a rich, buttery sweet crumb. It was so good that I went back to buy a slice for my mother. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and, inspiration found, I set about making my own version. It took two attempts to achieve the coffee cake nirvana I was seeking. I was so happy with how it looked when I took it out of the oven that I tweeted about it.

My cake is different from the Black Walnut’s, but pays homage to theirs in that the base is a rich, sour cream coffee cake and the first bite of the tender, sweet and tart apple-cranberry topping makes your eyes open wide. There’s more cinnamon-scented fruit adorning mine, but no crumble. Seriously, it was like having an apple cranberry pie on top of a coffee cake. We’ve got a lot of bases covered here!

So, whose is better? Oh, I’m so not going there (and I love all my children the same, by the way). Why not make my version, and if you’re in London, drop by the Black Walnut to try a slice of theirs? That’s assuming there’s any left; those slices disappear pretty fast.

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013

DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post, just the product of my enthusiasm for great baking. In fact, the fine folks at the Black Walnut didn’t even know I was doing this until I mentioned it yesterday when I was there for … you got it, coffee and a butter tart.

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake

My enthusiasm for cranberries seemingly knows no bounds. Take advantage of their crimson tartness while they’re in season and the people you bake for will thank you. Combine them with apples and cinnamon and tumble them on a sour cream coffee cake, and you’re about to experience the smell of amazingness from your oven.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-1/2 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and then butter that.

Apple Cranberry Topping

  • 2 small apples, cored, peeled, cut into 8 – 12 slices and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks (I recommend a softer apple like a McIntosh for this)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (Saigon cinnamon, if you have it)
  • 1 tbsp cane sugar

Mix the fruit, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside while you make the cake batter.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup 14% sour cream
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon)

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, stir and set aside. Cream the butter until light, then add the sugar gradually and continue to cream until fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, and beat until well blended, scraping down the bowl once. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and beat on slow speed until barely mixed in. Beat in half the sour cream. Repeat until the last of the flour has been incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix just enough to ensure the batter is smooth.

This makes a fairly stiff batter. Spread it into the prepared springform pan, fashioning about a 1-1/2 inch ring around the outside that’s a little higher than the centre. Mound the apple cranberry topping in the centre well of the cake. Yes, it looks like a lot! It is, actually, but not too much.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted at the inside edge of the outer ring of cake comes out clean. Because of all the fruit juices, the centre of the cake will be very moist.

Cool on a rack, then run a knife around the outside of the baking pan and release the springform ring. Carefully remove the cake from the parchment paper and ease onto a serving plate.

Apple Cranberry Coffee Cake |© 2013


    • Oh yes, snow already. Here in London Ontario we’ve subject to lake effect snow. If you don’t know what that is, Wikipedia has a rather boring article about it. Sometimes we get caught in multiple streamers off the lake, or one sits over us for a couple of days. This time we got (depending on area) in the range of 40 – 70 cm in two days. So yes, what the hell, SNOW!!!

      • Yes I know about that – we have an office in Chicago and they talk about it because it doesnt affect them it affects the other side of Lake…..Michigan I think. We love snow over here because it causes total mayhem – no one is ever prepared for it. And we only need 5cm of snow to bring the whole of London to a grinding halt (that’s London, England of course)

      • I just tweeted a radar map from Saturday to you so you can see what was happening. Just when you didn’t know how you were going to entertain yourself, a radar map!!! You’re welcome. The first snowfall over here always causes mayhem too. People forget how to drive in it.

    • That’s such a wonderful comment, Rebecca, thank you! I’ve noticed that taking time to photograph and appreciate the beauty of food helps build gratitude for the bounty that I’m lucky enough to enjoy. And, having readers who are so kind and generous in their feedback gives me a happy heart.

  1. This cake is a real beauty, Mar. It’s topping of cranberry and apple looks so very good. Your description of it being a pie on a cake is spot-on. Good for you for having the skills to taste and reproduce the cake. I surely couldn’t do it.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the cake, John (with your eyes at least!). I bet you could reproduce a cake or other dish that you enjoyed. For me, it’s not about getting an exact replica, but a recipe that captures the essence of the one that inspired me, and makes me feel the same when I have that all-important first bite (followed by the all-important subsequent bites). 🙂

  2. What a gorgeous cake, Mar! It’s a work of art, with all of that luscious fruit centered on top. I think you should take the credit for this newest cake creation.. I haven’t seen one anything like this before! I have to sit here and just imagine how yummy a slice with ice cream must be!! xx

    • Oh, wow, Barb, you say the nicest things. It really was quite the combination, but you know, it didn’t even occur to me to have it with ice cream. That just might put me over the top!

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