This cozy and comforting cranberry-orange snacking cake begs to be shared with a friend

  • Cranberry-Orange Snacking Cake.

    Cranberry-Orange Snacking Cake. Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

Posted12/10/2019 6:00 AM

This is not the airy, sugary kind of cake you'd typically stick a candle in for birthdays -- this cake satisfies in a completely different way. Homey and comforting, it boasts a moist, muffinlike crumb, is studded with cranberries and is topped with a crunch of brown-sugared walnuts. Like the most delicious holiday candle, it's perfumed with orange, cinnamon and cloves.

Called a snacking cake because it's ideal for exactly that, it begs to be shared with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee or savored as a recharge on a bustling winter's afternoon.


With just the right level of sweetness from maple syrup, whole grain flour, healthful oil in place of butter, and plenty of nuts, this cake provides more than pleasure; it gives you some steady sustenance, too.

Cranberry-Orange Snacking Cake

Storage: The cake will keep, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for up to 3 days.

For the topping

cup (50 grams) raw walnuts, finely chopped

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon mild olive oil, or another neutral-tasting oil

teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

For the cake

2 oranges

2 cups (240 grams) whole-wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup each regular whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoons baking powder

teaspoon baking soda

teaspoon kosher salt

teaspoon ground cinnamon

teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup (160 milliliters) pure maple syrup

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1/3 cup (80 milliliters) mild olive oil, or another neutral-tasting oil, plus more for brushing the pan

2 large eggs, at room temperature

cup (90 grams) fresh cranberries, halved if large

cup (50 grams) raw walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Brush an 8-by-8-inch square baking dish with oil.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, brown sugar, oil, cinnamon and salt and work it together with your fingers until it is blended.

Make the cake: In a small bowl, finely grate the zest of the oranges until you have 2 teaspoons zest. Squeeze 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) of juice from the oranges, and save whatever is left of the fruit for another use.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. In another medium bowl, whisk together the just-squeezed juice, zest, maple syrup, oil and eggs. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring just enough to combine but not over-mixing. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts, then pour the batter into the baking dish.

Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake, 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes or until warm to the touch, then cut into 12 squares and serve.

Serves 12

Nutrition | Calories: 260; Total Fat: 13 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 35 mg; Sodium: 180 mg; Carbohydrates: 32 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugars: 15 g; Protein: 4 g.

(From nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger.)

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