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Jan 19, 2006 11:51 PM

Sir Gawain's cake w/ cranberries for a birthday boy

  • c

My husband's bday fell on a weekday this year. Since I've been busy, I didn't have a chance to plan an elaborate bday cake or dessert and knew that some variant on SG's cake was in order. I also had a bag of frozen cranberries that I had defrosted that I wanted to use up. And thus, the cranberry version was born...Pictured below w/ candles (yes, he's older than 3).

I followed the original recipe (see link). I did add the zest of one lime (lemon or orange could work just as well) to the batter and used superfine sugar as always. The whole bag of cranberries seemed like too much, so I poured on about 2/3 of the bag. Remembering how tart cranberries can be, I loaded on nearly 1/4 c. of granulated sugar on top. With all the wet fruit on top, it was taking longer to bake than usual. I took it out after 80 min.

Well, the bday boy really liked this version. We thought the balance was good. It was still pretty tart even w/ that extra sugar. I liked the slight bitter edge from the cranberries and lime coming together. I've decided that my favorite renditions of this cake have been w/ berries. Their bursts of bright flavor and lack of tough skin seem to complement this cake well. Special enough even for a birthday.



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  1. Gorgeous photo, as always, carblover!

    If you have access to sour cherries in the summer, you should really try it with them. They lack the bitter edge of cranberries (which I admit, I do like), but the flavor (complemented with some almond extract) is great. I liked the SG cake + sour cherries *more* than I liked the homemade cherry pie I made with the cherries fresh last summer! Plus, the sour cherries in the cake make a similar presentation to your cranberry cake, which is so beautiful!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Smokey

      Oh yes, I remember your sour cherry cake post and photo. I am going to keep my eyes open for sour cherries in the summer so I can make it. Now, to say that it tops fresh baked cherry pie is quite a feat...

      1. re: Carb Lover

        I've never even seen a sour cherry, much less purchased one, but how does one pit the hundreds needed for a cake?

        1. re: nooodles

          You either don't pit them, but if they are ripe enough it's easy enough to squeeze the pit out. And you certainly won't be needing "hundreds", more like dozens.

          Sour cherries are da bomb.

          1. re: nooodles

            It really wasn't hundreds, and it took a while, but the results made it worthwhile! I used a technique that I think I saw described in cooks illustrated involving a paperclip. With a good CD in the stereo, it was just a time consuming, mindless task that allowed me to spend some time thinking!

            1. re: nooodles

              When I was researching cherry clafoutis, there were two that pitted and those that didn't. The argument for not pitting is that the cake and cherries will be more flavorful since the pit adds an almond note and the cherries don't lose any juice.

              While I like that in theory, this texture sensitive gal won't have any of it. I pitted my cherries using my bare hands and tried to catch any juice in a container. Tedious but not that bad compared to other tasks I've endured. And you won't be processing hundreds...

        2. I just made this cake last week using apples. My boys were asking for apple cake. A friend had brought some for Thanksgiving and it resembled the famous Sir Gawain cake. I had tucked away SG's recipe and went to work one night. It was really fabulous, and very easy. Can't wait to try berries.

          1. That looks like an excellent candidate for Valentine's Day dessert. I would give a slight boost to the sugar content with the cranberries. But thanks for sharing the experience and that beautiful photo.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sam D.

              I'll bet you could even shape the cranberries into a heart!

            2. If you have Patricia Well's Paris Bistro Cooking, there's a fabulous pear cake similar to SG's. I think it's called Quatre-Quarts aux Poires (4 quarters, or pound cake). You slice the pears and then reassemble them sort of fanned out in the cake batter.

              1 Reply
              1. re: oakjoan

                Hmmm...I wonder if that's similar to galleygirl's pear tart then. After making gg's tart twice now, I've come to the conclusion that I just don't like pear in my tarts. One year my husband bought me a fancy pear tart from a bakery, and I didn't care for it either. Ended up just eating the almond crust.

                I enjoy fresh, poached, and dried pears, but the transformation in flavor and texture after baking just doesn't suit me. Something about the soft texture of the pears colliding w/ other textures triggers a slight gag reflex in me...