One year, overly enthusiastic about being able to find bags of whole cranberries in the produce sections of Icelandic grocery stores, I overdid it and bought three or four bags when I really only needed two at most. (I don’t really care for the canned cranberry sauce option and make my own.) In trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the cranberries, I found a recipe for a cranberry coffee cake that suited my needs (also calling for sour cream or plain yogurt, which I often had on hand and needed to use before expiration dates).
I have vague memories of early childhood when my mother used to get up on Sunday mornings before everyone else and bake coffee cakes. As a very young child I assumed they were called “coffee cakes” because they actually contained coffee. No such luck. I found the standard coffee cakes to be rather bland as a kid (but then most kids prefer toxic, bright breakfast sugar rushes in the form of Trix). In any case, I did eventually come to see that a coffee cake is a not-too-sweet but still sort of indulgent thing for those late Sunday brunches. The cranberries really make this particular coffee cake come alive, with the very bright, distinctly tart flavor of cranberry and the subtle brown sugar-cinnamon undertones of the streusel.
Baking this to take it to work does not exactly qualify as a “late Sunday brunch” (and also means that the coffee cake is not being served at its best, which is warm), but the explosion of cranberry justifies the whole thing. Colleagues in Iceland loved it. As for the current workplace, I have only made this once and it came out looking like something a grandma would make (which is fitting since I often compare myself to someone’s grandma, albeit a bit early in life and impossible). I did not have a tube pan or even a bundt pan with me, so had to settle for a flat 11-by-9-style rectangular pan. Not ideal or even particularly beautiful but still more than edible.
CRANBERRY STREUSEL CAKE
Preheat oven to 350°F/176°C
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 cups whole cranberries
For streusel: mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Blend in butter until crumbly. Set aside.
Cake: Mix butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternately with sour cream or yogurt.
Spread in a greased 9-inch tube pan. Cover with cranberries, and sprinkle the streusel on top.
Bake for about 55 minutes. Remove from pan, and serve warm.