Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Supper

Today was the day to make cranberry orange relish for Thanksgiving. I'm really the only one that likes it, but since I'm the cook, it's on the menu. I like it tart and more orangey, so I use less sugar and more oranges. Sometimes I add a little orange oil, but that's another benefit of being the cook; you get to make things just the way you like them.

While I was chopping cranberries in the food processor, it dawned on me that this would also be the perfect time to make one of my favorite recipes, Nantucket Cranberry Pie. Laurie Colwin wrote two absolutely excellent cookbooks, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I hesitate to call them cookbooks because they are really collections of wonderful essays about food along with some chatty recipes. She wrote articles for Gourmet in addition to some good fiction before her untimely death when she was just 48.

"People who feel they must make a real dessert are often looking for something simple and wonderful, two words often felt to be mutually exclusive. I like a cake that takes about four seconds to put together and gives an ambrosial result. Fortunately there are such cakes, and you usually get them at the homes of others. You then purloin the recipe (since you have taken care to acquire generous friends) and serve it to other friends, who then serve it to others. This is the way in which nations are unified and relationships made solid.

My candidate for an easy spectacular dessert is something called Nantucket Cranberry Pie, which is not a pie, but a cake, and was served to me in the country by my friend Ann Gold, who lives on a dairy farm and got this recipe from her mother, who can no longer remember where it came from. It is a Gold family staple, and the buck stops there.

In an effort to find the true roots of this cake I looked into Yankee Cooking by Imogen Walcott, a classic tome that contains everything anyone needs to know about New England cooking. There in the index was Cape Cod Cranberry Pie, but this turned out to be a real live pie, whereas Nantucket Cranberry Pie is a cake. Furthermore, it is a snap, and, last but not least, it is truly good.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

1. Chop enough cranberries to make 2 cups and enough walnuts to make 1/2 cup.

2. In the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate or springform pan, place chopped cranberries, chopped walnuts, and 1/2 cup sugar.

3. Mix 2 eggs, 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Stir till smooth.

4. Pour over cranberry-walnut mixture and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

There is something about the tartness of the cranberries and the smooth, sweet, buttery taste of the cake that is irresistible. This cake is so easy a child could do it, and if you happen to have a child or two lying around, I suggest you set them to work for your next dinner party."

I usually rough chop the cranberries with a knife when I make this, but this time I used the food processor so they are chopped pretty finely. I also folded the cranberries into the batter just because I felt like it (cook's prerogative again!) and left out the walnuts because I didn't have any. It's always delicious, no matter how I've made it. I'm not exactly sure what we're having for Sunday supper, but there will be cake Nantucket Cranberry Pie!


  1. Oh my, that looks and sounds delicious!

  2. This looks good and is pretty on top of it! I see myself with a big spoon, this pie, and a big glass of milk!!

    Linda in VA

  3. Oooh, doesn't that sound good?!? I make cranberry pecan pie for Thanksgiving because it's Hannah's favorite. And I have a great cranberry cake that I also make this time of year but I've never seen one like this.

  4. That looks delicious! It's similar to a Swedish apple pie I make. Yum!!!

  5. Mmmm. That looks AWESOME. I love the Laurie Colwin "essay" quote you included. Must read more. (I, too, am the only one at my house that likes cranberries. So I make a cranberry-pepper relish -- with a chopped jalapeƱo -- because I like it!)


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