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Cranberry Olive Oil Cake with Cream Cheese Nuggets and Walnuts

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SKILL LEVEL :
Easy but takes some time

Cranberry olive oil cake with cream cheese nuggets and walnuts - Something New For Dinner

Cranberry Olive Oil Cake -- The Latest Flavor in My New Olive Oil Cake Obsession

This cranberry olive oil cake is my fourth flavor of olive oil cakes I've experimented with in less than a month. I guess you could say I am obsessed with olive oil cakes in general. Which is really funny, because I am not a baker at heart; I am a cook. Baking is way too precise and it is harder to improvise on the fly. Baking is temperamental and you can have monumental failures if you are not paying attention, as well as when you are paying attention.

Olive Oil Cake is So Forgiving

Eight or nine olive oil cakes later, this cranberry olive oil cake is my third published recipe. I've made some pretty drastic mistakes along the way. The good news is that I am living proof that an olive oil cake is really hard to screw up. So far I have accidentally:
  • Doubled the sugar on one cake -- no problem it was delicious and surprisingly not too sweet
  • Added an extra cup of olive oil to a cake -- no problem, just cook it an extra half hour
  • Undercooked a cake -- no problem, turns out delicious just like undercooked brownies
  • Forgot to add the ground nuts to the batter -- no problem, cake just had a more refined texture
  • Forgot to put the olive oil in the batter, but didn't figure it out until after I had poured the batter into the prepared pan. No problem, I just scraped the batter back into the bowl and slowly streamed in the olive oil. I didn't even fully re-prep the pan. I just wiped it out, added a bit more olive oil and sugar and re-poured the batter back in. No one could tell.
  • Mistakenly grabbed a container of salt instead of sugar for the final sprinkle before you bake the cake. This was definitely an unfixable problem, but hardly the olive oil cake's responsibility.
I have never met a cake I could so blatantly and creatively screw up and it still comes out amazing. Not just my judgment, but the judgment of the dozen or so people who taste tested for me. The real question is where is my mind these days? I think I must have pandemic-itis!

Olive Oil Cake is a Blank Canvas for Creativity

What I really love about olive oil cake is that it is so adaptable to a variety of flavors. So far I have made a Passion Fruit Olive Oil Cake, A Pumpkin Walnut Olive Oil cake with Espresso and Almonds, a Chocolate Olive Oil cake and now this Cranberry Olive Oil Cake. The only one I need to still work on is the chocolate version and I am looking forward to doing that. So feel free to substitute your favorite flavor; chances are it will make into an amazing olive oil cake.

Use Good Quality Olive Oil

It is important to use good olive oil in this cake as well as any olive oil cake for that matter. Never use a "lite" olive oil; it is made from a mixture of other oils and is typically low quality. If you want to get fancy, use a flavored olive oil, like Stonehouse Blood Orange olive oil. If you want to save a little money, use your very best oil for the after bake drizzle and just a good everyday olive oil for the cake.

Cream Cheese is the Newest Ingredient

See the chunks of cream cheese buried inside the cake?
I recently read about adding cream cheese chunks to a coffee cake and I loved the idea. The concept reminded me of blueberry scones made at the Diamond Head Market and Grill in Honolulu. These scones were moist and delicious with swirls of cream cheese and juicy blueberries, very different from your usual dry, crumbly scone. Given how cream cheese made these scones delicious, I thought adding creamed cheese chunks to a cake was genius.

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  And what better cake to experiment with than the infallible olive oil cake? For this cream cheese experiment I chose cranberry as the flavor pairing for the holiday season. If you've ever eaten a good cranberry cheesecake you will understand why this sweet, creamy and tart combo works.

Finish with Edible Flowers or a Sift of Powdered Sugar

This cake looks beautiful right out of the oven with no garnish at all. You can, however, spiff it up with some edible flowers or a tablespoon of sifted powdered sugar or both.

Please Let Us Know What you Think About This Cranberry Olive Oil Cake

After this Cranberry Olive Oil Cake, I have a few more olive oil cakes planned. I need to play with the chocolate version a bit and I want to make a poppy seed lemon and a key lime. Which do you think I should work on next?

Cranberry Olive Oil Cake with Cream Nuggets Chunks and Walnuts

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 8 - 10 servings

A delightful moist spiced cake with tart cranberries and cream cheese nuggets that is easy to make and will hold for several days. A perfect cake to make in advance or to give as a gift for the holidays.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup plus 6 T granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 package fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts, divided
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t powdered ginger
  • 1/2 t fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice plus zest from 1/2 orange
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese (not whipped)
  • 1 - 2 T powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 400 F degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 9" round springform pan. Wipe the bottom and sides of the pan with olive oil and place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan. Smooth to remove air bubbles.
  2. Sprinkle 2 T of sugar into the pan to coat bottom and sides, tapping the pan and turning it to coat. Tap out excess. Set aside.
  3. Place the cranberries in a small bowl and toss with 2 T of sugar. Set aside.
  4. Place 1/2 cup walnuts in a food processor, mini-prep or blender and pulse until they are chopped and about the texture of cornmeal. Do not over process or you will get walnut butter.
  5. In a medium bowl mix processed walnuts, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together. Set aside.
  6. In a small bowl mix together Grand Marnier, orange juice and vanilla. Set aside. 
  7. Put the eggs, 1 cup of sugar and orange zest in a large bowl and whisk on high for 10 minutes. This is an important step as it adds air into the batter and will help the cake rise.
  8. Slowly add 1 1/4 cups of olive oil, streaming it in slowly as you mix it in. 
  9. Pour half of the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in until fully incorporated. Add half the Grand Marnier and orange juice mixture and mix until incorporated. Repeat. 
  10. Cut the cream cheese block into 32 cubes (4 slices across the length and 8 across the width).
  11. Fold in the sugared cranberries and cream cheese chunks into the batter, mixing gently to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle 2 T of sugar over the top of the cake. Top the surface of the cake with the remaining 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, spreading them evenly over the surface. Place the cake in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 350 F degrees if you are using a conventional oven and 325 F degrees if you are using a convection oven. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted deeply into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  13. Move to a wire rack and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Using a chopstick, poke holes all over the top of the cake. Slowly drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over the top of the cake, allowing the cake to absorb the oil.
  14. Run an offset spatula or knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and release the springform pan. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Sift 1 to 2 t of powdered sugar over the top of the cake. This is optional, but makes for a pretty presentation. 
  15. If not eating the cake the same day, wrap it in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Cake will be even better the next day and will keep for several days wrapped. Unlike my other olive oil cakes, I do refrigerate this olive oil cake because it has the cream cheese in it. Generally these cakes do not need refrigeration. Bring the refrigerated cake out about 1 hour before serving so it comes to room temperature. 

Cuisine New American

2 COMMENTS

Comments

  1. Linda Blankenhorn says:

    I am assuming it is 1 8oz block of cream cheese. I have read the recipe 3 times and do not see amount! It sounds yummy!!!

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Linda, Yes, I use an 8-ounce package of regular, not whipped, cream cheese. Thank you for catching the omission. Much appreciated! The recipe has now been corrected. You can see how I cut the block of creamed cheese in the photography slider at the end of the recipe. The cake can be made without the cream cheese if you are avoiding dairy, but my husband thinks it makes this cake something extra special.

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