I decided to try an easier Thanksgiving menu this year, and I’m continuing that theme with my 2022 Christmas dinner menu. Things have been extra hectic around here lately, and I could use a break. I had originally planned to make a cheesecake topped with cranberries, but it just seemed a little too complicated right now. Instead, I decided to go with this Spiced Mascarpone Cranberry Cake. A spiced cake is perfect for the Christmas season, and this one is also topped with cranberries. However, it’s a single-layer cake with no frosting, and it sounds much simpler than a cheesecake. Let’s find out if it is!
A simple spiced cake with mascarpone cheese, tart cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange.
This Spiced Mascarpone Cranberry Cake recipe has a lot of the typical cake ingredients: sugar, flour, baking powder, etc. I had all of those on hand as well as a few other ingredients like spices, vanilla, and powdered sugar. A quick check of the fridge and I found butter and eggs too.
I had to shop for everything else and didn’t anticipate it being a problem at my regular grocery store. I had found everything I needed before and expected them to have it all this time. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
The one thing I couldn’t find was a tub of mascarpone cheese. I couldn’t believe it! I guess everyone is making cheesecake this time of the year, and the store had sold out. A quick search on my phone told me creme fraiche was a good substitute for mascarpone.
My usual grocery store never has creme fraiche. I almost didn’t bother to look, but I decided to take a lap past the dairy case, and there it was. Maybe they decided to stock it after they remodeled the store. I grabbed a container, did a happy dance, and calmly made my way to the checkout like nothing happened LOL!
Making this Spiced Mascarpone Cranberry Cake went pretty smoothly, but I did switch the order of the first 2 steps. Tip: Start things off by moving the oven rack to the bottom and preheating before you begin the cranberry topping. Otherwise, the oven might not be ready when the cake is ready to bake.
The actual cooking started off with making the cranberry topping. It was just like making cranberry sauce but with less liquid. I added the ingredients to a saucepan and stirred while it heated to a boil. Then I let the cranberry mixture simmer while I prepared the batter.
The Cake Batter
My stand mixer did most of the work for the batter. I followed the instructions and it mixed together in a few minutes with no problems at all.
While I spooned it into a greased 8-inch cake pan I noticed the batter was rather thick, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I realized it was a good thing when I spooned on the cranberry mixture. The thick batter kept the cranberry sauce-like mixture in place.
Next, I popped the pan into the oven and let it bake on the bottom rack for 35 minutes. But when I opened the door to cover the cake with foil I noticed the cake had overflowed the pan. It had a muffin top! Tip: A 9-inch cake pan or a deeper springform pan would have been a better choice for this cake.
There was nothing I could do, so I covered the cake with foil and let it bake for another 20 minutes. I hoped it would fall, but it didn’t. All I could do was continue, though, so I let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
The batter puffing up distorted the cranberry topping and made it a little difficult to get out of the pan. I managed, though, and placed it onto my cake stand and topped it with some powdered sugar. I was a little disappointed, but it looked fine once I sliced the cake into pieces.
This recipe doesn’t list times, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I’m happy to say it didn’t feel like it took long at all since most of the time was inactive. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 25 minutes to prep*
- 55 minutes to bake
- 15 minutes to cool in the pan
- 30 minutes to cool completely
- 2 hours 5 minutes total
*The prep time includes making the cranberry topping and batter, assembly, covering with foil, removal from the pan, and topping with powdered sugar.