So I really wasn’t sure how this would come out, but good news….yummy!  A somewhat sweet, but more tart and refreshing cranberry filling nestled between two layers of soft and moist vanilla shortbread cake – so verrry tasty.  I happen to love cranberries and here mixed with orange zest and fresh orange juice just made me happy.  I can eat the filling alone (or on top of some ice cream!)  This cake had great flavor and texture for 5 days!  And as it sat it almost seemed to get moister.  And really, it is so pretty for the holidays – well worth your time and effort.  Patrick seemed to enjoy this the most – and actually my mother in law Edith too.  Rob and Linda liked as well, but unfortunately, they don’t love cranberries.  And well, you do have to like em to enjoy this.  But change the filling – Rob and Patrick are eager for a blueberry filling which I will try in the summer.  Fill it with a cooked apple or pear filling – mix them with sugar and cinnamon – or ginger – that too would be super.  Serve this warm or at room temp with vanilla ice cream and enjoy-

You need to plan ahead when you make this as the cranberry filling needs to cool to room temp and the dough needs to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.  You can make both filling and dough ahead of time (the filling 2 weeks ahead and the dough the day before.)

I doubled the recipe and placed in a 9×13 inch pan.  But I do think the original recipe a 9 inch spring form would be better which I will write below.  If you want to double it- just make 2-9 inch pans.

cranberry shortbread cake (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours):


1 navel orange
about 1/4 cup orange juice (from the orange)
1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (but not thawed if frozen)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 pinches of kosher salt


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar – divided
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the filling

Wash and dry the orange.  Then grate the zest – a microplane (see baking tips) is great.  Be sure to just take the orange part of the peel and not the white pith since it is bitter.  Put the zest in a saucepan.  Next, peel the orange using a knife –  removing the white pith from the outside of the orange, then slice between the membranes to release the orange segments.  Cut the segments into 1/4 pieces and add to the zest.  Squeeze the juice from the orange into a measuring cup – you should aim for 1/4 of a cup and if you don’t have enough juice then add additional juice from another orange or some water to equal 1/4 of a cup. Add the juice to the saucepan.

Place the cranberries in the pan as well – and stir in the sugar.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and stir frequently.  Then cook the cranberries stirring constantly until the cranberries pop and the back of you spoon leaves tracks – this should take about 5 minutes.

Place cranberry mixture in a bowl to cool to room temperature.  Add the pinches of salt.  Taste it (while warm) – and if it is too tart, add a little more sugar.  (This can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and stored in the fridge until assembly.)

For the shortbread cake –

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

With the paddle attachment of you mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft.  Add one cup of the sugar (save the 2 T for later) and beat until the sugar dissolves into the batter – about 3-4 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and then add the egg and egg yolk.  Once absorbed, add the vanilla.

On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  Do not overbeat – in fact you can do the tail end by hand.

Place the dough onto a smooth surface (I like my cutting board) – and then divide it in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and form into a disc – and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.  (If you did this yesterday, just pull the dough 20 minutes before you plan to roll it.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 inch spring-form pan (pref non stick).  Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Assembly –

On a lightly floured surface roll half the dough to form a rough circle and carefully place in the baking pan.  Press the dough in so that it covers the bottom completely.

Next, pour the cooled cranberry filling and spread evenly on top of the dough – making sure to cover all of it – even the edges.

Take the other piece of dough and again – roll into a nice circle that will fit  on top of the filling.  I needed to use a lot of flour on the bottom and top to prevent it from sticking.  Then make sure to brush off the flour.   If you don’t like rolling the dough you can leave it on the plastic wrap and just press it into a circle with your hands.  Then you can carefully invert the pressed dough onto the cranberry filling and peel off the plastic.

Lastly – sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of the dough.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown and a toothpick comes out with nice moist crumbs.

Transfer to a cooling rack for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges and release the sides of the pan and let cool.

Serve warm, or room temp – no need to refrigerate.  This lasts well for 5 days wrapped well.  Enjoy-

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