I don’t know what it is about cranberries. I find their tartness refreshing and nearly addictive, and I do my best to incorporate them into dishes both savory and sweet during the brief time they’re in season. Today’s recipe combines them with apples and pears in a rustic dessert which could be a great finale to a holiday meal. Ginger and cinnamon add a spicy, warming note, and walnut pieces provide a subtle crunch. To keep these pudding-cakes really moist, bake them in a bain marie, which just means that they are oven steamed in a pan half filled with hot water. For an elegant and easy presentation, use individual ramekins, and serve with a whipped or frozen topping of your choice.
STEAMED CRANBERRY-APPLE/PEAR PUDDING CAKE
Serves 6 generously and 8 very adequately/ Preheat oven to 375˚ F
5 cups cored and diced apples and pears (5-6 medium apples or pears, in whatever combination you like)
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) fresh cranberries, washed and picked over
1/4 cup rice syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple juice or water
1/2 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in an additional 1/4 cup of apple juice or water
1 cup walnuts, or nuts of your choice, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup soy or rice milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon each powdered cinnamon and ginger
1/2 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1. Heat 1/4 cup apple juice in a large sauce pan. Add the apples, pears, cranberries, rice syrup and maple syrup. Bring just to a boil, then turn down heat to a quiet simmer. Simmer 12-15 minutes, or until the fruit is barely tender. Dissolve the arrowroot or cornstarch in 1/4 cup apple juice or water. Stir this slurry into the fruit. Simmer 3-4 minutes more or until the fruit is thickened. If the fruit already seems to be thickened, skip this step.
2. Divide this fruit mixture among 6 to 8 1 1/2 cup ramekins or custard cups. Alternatively, pour it into a 9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle the nuts over the fruit.
3. While the fruit is cooking, make the batter by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and whisking everything together until well mixed and lump free.
4. Pour the batter over the nut and fruit mixture. Shake a little to make sure the batter is distributed evenly.
5. Place the ramekins in a large casserole pan. Fill half way up with hot water. Cover tightly with foil and place on the middle shelf of your preheated oven.
6. Bake about 50 minutes or until the cake topping tests done. Uncover carefully, as steam is likely to escape.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a favorite whipped or frozen topping.