Hey all–It’s been a week. So much Christmas. We’ve been out to eat with friends every night but one this past week–Pub dinner with close friends, a quiet dinner out with J & L, who always make you feel a little wiser just listening to them, a winery dinner and performance of the Messiah with old friends… It’s been grand to sit and talk and laugh and hear Christmas plans… Last night it was a potluck at Caroline’s. I brought along this cake (in fact I’m eating a leftover slice right now).
It’s fruity and nutty, but nothing at all like fruitcake. Tender white cake underneath and a swath of whipped cream on top. The berries are tart and the pecans sweet and crunchy. I’ll be making it again this Christmas.
CRANBERRY & CANDIED PECAN POKE CAKE
1 white cake mix
1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 tab. cornstarch
2 1/2 cups cranberries (about 1 bag)
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/2 cups peans
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 rounded tsp. powdered sugar
1 rounded tsp. vanilla instant pudding mix*
a few more cranberries
2 tsp. sugar
Make the cake mix according to the instructions on the box–mine used 3 eggs, 1/2 cup oil and a cup of water. Spoon the batter into a 9″x13″ baking dish or a 11″spring form pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake it 30 to 35 minutes, until it is lightly browned and firm to the touch.
Let the cake cool. Then with the handle end of a wooden spoon, poke small holes all over the top of the cake.
To make the cranberry layer, Mix the cup of sugar and cornstarch in a pan and mix them thoroughly to break up any cornstarch lumps. Then add in the 1 1/3 cup water and the cranberries and stir over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes until the berries all pop! The sauce will thicken and the berries turn soft and sweet.
Spread the berry mixture over the cake the pat it down into the holes. Let it cool.
To make the pecan layer, put the pecans and 3/4 cup sugar into a nonstick skillet and stir over medium heat until the sugar melts into a golden color and coats the pecans. Keep stirring or it can burn! Turn the pecans out onto a piece of foil and let it cool.
Then break the sugared pecans into smaller pieces and layer over the cranberry layer.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix until it’s stiff. And then spread it over the pecan layer. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more to set.
Garnish: Mix a handful of cranberries with a couple teaspoons of sugar in a plastic bag and pile them in the center of the cake– finish off with non-poisonous*** (!) leaves from your yard.
*The pudding mix sets the whipped cream, so even out of the fridge it will hold up firm.
**I like to use a springform pan because you can lift the cake out of the pan on to a plate to serve it up pretty.
***We have lemon geranium in the back yard with these leaves and lots of mint. Check to see if your leaves are good to use.