In my foodie family there are many holiday dishes that are considered sacred: Eggs Benedict on Christmas morning, my mom’s buttery fresh spinach, my brother’s carefully timed and rotated stuffed turkey, my mom’s poached pears with chestnut puree, and my mashed potatoes. Most of these dishes are not only a little bit richer than I would usually make, but they are also very labor intensive, and that’s how we like it. We love spending hours in the kitchen together, usually with bouncing fun music playing, creating these rich and delicious meals.
Other than my mom’s poached pears, however, there are few dessert recipes that are considered essential (and even that one isn’t made every year). So when The Recipe Redux announced the challenge for this month: “The holiday baking season is upon us. Time to pull out all the stops. Show us the healthy holiday dessert you will be sharing with family and friends this season.” I was excited to see what I could come up with. I wanted to create a recipe that would not only have some redeemable nutritional aspects to it, but that would also be a simple one that anyone could do. My goal of simplicity was a bit selfish because I hoped that in making one that was easy, perhaps I could entice the boys to start making it with me and that over time it could become their special recipe to contribute to future holiday meals.
Outside of its simplicity, I love this recipe for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is not too sweet. Don’t get me wrong, it is sweet and definitely tastes like dessert, but it tastes like a refreshing end to a meal rather than another brick in the stomach. Another is that I love the tartness of the cranberries. They enliven my senses and remind me that desserts should have layers of flavor and interest to them. Plus I think the specks of red throughout the cake is really pretty. And finally, I enjoy knowing that the moistness of the cake is due to the yogurt rather than a heavier alternative.
This cake is so easy to prepare! No beating of eggs, no sifting of flour, just simple mixing and baking. It is also easy to adjust. If cranberries aren’t your thing, you could add raisins or other chopped dried fruit instead. If you do this, I would recommend cutting the sugar down to one cup since you won’t need to counterbalance the tartness of the cranberries. And chopped nuts would make a delicious addition as well! If you want to boost the nutritional content even more, you could use white whole wheat flour or replace half of the all purpose flour with spelt flour. It may come out a little bit more dense, but the moisture of the yogurt will keep you in the delicious zone.
If you don’t feel like making the glaze, you can also just dust the cake with a little bit of powdered sugar, which you should do just before serving, as it will soak into the cake.
So whether it is for Thanksgiving or some other holiday celebration this season, I highly recommend trying this cake out and please let me know what you think!
- 1 ½ cups whole milk plain yogurt (you could also use lowfat yogurt, if you prefer)
- ⅔ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoons baking soda
- ¾ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoons ground clove
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries, chopped
- For the glaze (optional):
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Make sure that all of the flour is mixed in well (no little lumps).
- Chop the cranberries and gently mix in.
- Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and immediately, but gently, turn it over.
- Let the cake cool completely. While it is cooling make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and milk together in a small bowl.
- Once the cake is completely cool, place it on a serving plate or platter and drizzle the glaze over.