Cranberry Torte


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to be DJing at the Hideout at an event to support the campaign for marriage equality in Illinois. It was a fun night (see playlist below!) full of cool people, and we raised an impressive amount of money. I’d been nervous about the DJ gig, so I brought my friend Gabe with me.

One of the best things that happened to me in 2013 was the birth of my best friends’ baby, Gabe. Babies are some of the coolest people in the world, and it has been a real pleasure getting to know this little man who is about to turn seven months old. I consider him one of my best friends, though he has had very little say in the matter and doesn’t even know what a friends is…or a best is.

I thought he might be into DJing because he definitely likes music, and I was right. He proved to be a great sidekick, though to be honest he fell asleep pretty early.

On Tuesday Illinois became the 15th state to approve extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples. My marriage (performed in the great state of Massachusetts!), will finally be recognized in my home state. I am glad to have supported the cause, and I very much like the fact that Gabe’s first political act lead to success. I am also happy to know that I live in a state that has prioritized this issue and made progress in supporting equal rights.

This kind of thing means a lot more when you are friends with a baby.


It is a good time to celebrate with something that is very familiar around here, a fruit-studded cake. This cranberry torte comes from a book called Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman. The book is a collection of cold-weather desserts using seasonal (cranberries, citrus, pomegranate) and seasonless (maple, honey, nuts) ingredients. It is a very good idea for a book, and many of the recipes I have bookmarked for the upcoming winter. I started with this torte because it was simple and I excited to buy my first bags of fresh cranberries for the season. I’ve also been in a bit of a cooking rut and returning to old favorites seemed like a comforting thing to do. The cake is simple and delicious and keeps well for a few days. You can make it for a casual dessert and then eat leftovers for breakfast, or with tea.


Cranberry Totre (recipe from Wintersweet by Tammy Donroe Inman)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used a heaping cup)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy- 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the eggs one at a time, then the almond extract. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Arrange the cranberries on top of the batter in a single layer, and sprinkle the top with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar.

Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool before removing from the pan.

Keeps for 3-4 days covered at room temperature.


Bonus! Some of you have been asking what I played at The Hideout. My playlist:

  • She’s a Rainbow * The Rolling Stones
  • Ragtime * Neko Case
  • That’s That * Cass McCombs
  • Different Drum * Linda Ronstadt
  • Children of the Revolution * T-Rex
  • A Lover’s Concerto * The Toys
  • Rockin Back Inside My Heart * Julee Cruise
  • Breaking Glass * David Bowie
  • There’s a Break in Every Road * Betty Harris
  • Losing You * Solange
  • Young Americans * David Bowie


35 comments to “Cranberry Torte”

  1. I’ve been on the receiving end of my friends’ love for my baby, and I can tell you that, as a parent, there is no greater gift than having people you love, love your baby so well.

    also–Young Americans? I knew I liked you.

  2. haha love that you’re friends with a baby! My brother is about to have his first am I’m totally gearing up to make it my new bestie.

    This torte is lovely!

  3. Welcome into to the fold, Illinois. Hope you can hear us applauding you all the way from Seattle.

  4. any tips for using a different sized pan? I have a 6-inch springform, a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom, pie dish, and standard cake pan (not sure what size…maybe 8 inch?) Thanks!

  5. Hi Annie- I haven’t tried another size pan but it should work. I would rule out the 6-inch, it is too small. Either of the other two would likely work, though my guess is you might have some trouble getting it out of the tart pan unless you are very careful with the greasing of the pan. I would go with the cake pan and line the bottom with parchment, butter and flour the pan.

  6. Way to go Illinois! Unfortunately, while I don’t think Austin is far behind, I’m afraid the state of Texas is. The cake looks great – I’ve been itching to make something with fresh cranberries!

  7. So happy about the news in Illinois! Hurrah. And the torte looks yummy, too.

  8. schneiderluvsdoof says:

    November 7th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    You should take Gabe to visit the cranberry bogs of Massachusetts, visit your marriage tree, and make him a torte. I will have a slice too, please and thank you. We celebrate this great progress with you!!

  9. Yay Illinois! Looks like the perfect cake and little companion to celebrate the good news with.

  10. LOVE the pic of you and Gabe–frame that for him! Thanks for adding the playlist! ;)

  11. Very nice story! And I am with Nishta. Its so nice when friends like also your baby-even if they dont have one.

  12. I was just waiting for you to post this recipe, apparently :) Now i know what to do with those berries in my fridge.

    And, all the way from Amsterdam, congratulations on that news.

  13. Good Job Illinois! And good job to you and Gabe, that’s a top shelf playlist, for sure! And this torte looks delectable as well.

  14. I heard the news today – OH BOY! That sax player takes the cake. Or torte.

  15. What a great, simple, seasonal cake! Maybe I can eliminate the cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and make one of these instead… :)

  16. It’s great to hear that all over the world there are more and more places where same-sex marriage is legal. I’m happy for you. I find tolerance has no price… so does a good torte like this one ;)

  17. Hooray for the event! Hip hip hooray for the outcome!!! And awesome tunes!! And of course this simple little torte. All delicious with baby cheeks too!

  18. This looks delicious…it reminds me of Laurie Colwin’s Nantucket Cranberry Pie (which is really a cake.) I’m glad that your marriage will now be recognized in your home state. Nice playlist too.

  19. Congratulations, that’s great news about Illinois. It makes me happy that I’m part of this generation.

  20. I, too, thought of the Nantucket Cranberry Pie, a recipe that I got from Gourmet years ago; I did not realize it is one of Laurie Colwin’s, of whom I am a big fan! Also, I had the good fortune to become a grandmother last December and I agree that babies are the most lovely companions! Thank you for the recipe and enjoy your baby friend.

  21. Hey, I just made this torte tonight and it is perfect! Thanks!

  22. This looks delicious! Have you ever baked this for Thanksgiving or Christmas?

  23. I made this the other night and drizzled it with a little homemade lemon curd and it was amazing. We ate it a little too quickly.

  24. Thank you so much for this recipe. I made one last night and have another one in the oven now. The contrast of the buttery cake with the tart bursts of cranberry is heavenly. Served with little home made creme fraiche (first time making it – wow!) which just sent it over the top in terms of deliciousness. I have family coming for Thanksgiving, and this simple, wonderful torte will definitely be part of our Holiday spread. Thanks for this, and all the other stories, photographs, and recipes you have shared over the last few years. My cookbook collection has doubled as a result of your posts and recommendations…..looks as though “Wintersweet” will be on my Xmas wish list.

  25. So proud of our state! also nice playlist

  26. oh, cranberry excellent! love this. didn’t know of the book. just ordered a copy. win-win!

  27. I’m making this for a Black Friday potluck at my store. It is sure to beat the Costco veggie tray and jar of tub of Creamland Onion Dip with Ruffles. Thanks!

  28. My boyfriend lacks a sweet tooth and, out of sheer stubbornness, I have been on a year-long mission to find a dessert that he likes. I am happy to say that this is it! He could not stop eating it.

    I am making four for Thanksgiving (three for dear friends, one for us), and have added diced pear to all of them. So incredibly delicious. Thank you!

    An d congratulations to Illinois :)

  29. (Could someone correct the spelling of Torte just above the recipe? It’s driving me crazy.) I made the cranberry version for T’giving dinner served with French Vanilla ice cream. It was loved. Today, I made it with blueberries! Gorgeous…and, delicious with lemon sorbet.

  30. I am STILL making this wonderful torte about once a week. I’ve steadily upped the almond extract which gives it this wonderful frangipane type of taste. It is absolutely indispensable, and I thank you again for introducing me to it. I’m currently hoarding bags of cranberries to freeze, so that we can enjoy this throughout the year.

  31. hungry robot says:

    January 5th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Just when I start to grumble about Massholes (yes, that is a real term that people here are proud of), I get reminded that we still lead the way in terms of social issues. As someone who lived in Chicago and then Champaign for a total of 6 years, I am relieved that Illinois has finally joined the fold. But what the hell took so long?! ;)

  32. I have been obsessed with this recipe and made it about ten times (to be fair, four were gifts). Today, I changed the recipe by adding a 1/3 cup of Meyer lemon juice and a tablespoon if the zest, and topped it with good quality frozen blueberries. I also poured a Meyer lemon glaze over the top, and IT. IS. RIDICULOUS. This recipe rocks even more since it’s adaptable.

  33. My obsession with this torte continues. As i mentioned in an earlier comment , I DID freeze a ton of cranberries so that I could enjoy this year round. I do not thaw beforehand (figured – same as blueberries, right?) and i notice a definite sort of “chew” to the cranberries not present in the fresh cranberry torte. Not terrible (i still make and eat it often) . i was wondering if you have tried this with frozen, and did you thaw..would it be bad to try them thawed, or did you notice a “chew” to them?

  34. I made this for Thanksgiving dessert. It was perfect! Not too sweet, moist, delicious. Had some warmed the next morning for breakfast….I think I might make it for Christmas breakfast as an option next to the super sized cinnamon rolls!

  35. Judy- I am so glad you liked it! I really like it for breakfast, too.

What do you think?