Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Cranberry Pound Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Recently I wrote here about searching for a recipe to use with my vintage Swans Down hexagonal cake pans. I tracked down the corporate headquarters and asked if they could find a vintage recipe to match. They couldn’t, but they were quick to answer and kindly sent me a big batch of their recipes. I applaud their customer service!

Among their Thanksgiving recipes was one for Cranberry Pound Cake. Since I live in the home of Ocean Spray, I have a moral obligation to use our native cranberries, so I thought I’d share this recipe, in case you want something that isn’t apple or pumpkin pie with your holiday meal.

Swans Down Cranberry Pound Cake

3 cups sifts Swans Down cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries (chop first, then measure)
Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Sift the flour and measure. Then add the baking powder and salt, and sift again to mix.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the extra yolk one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth.

Mix the vanilla and the milk. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternative with the milk, and beating on low after each addition.

Fold in the cranberries (and nuts if you’re using them).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling on the rack.

Glaze (if you want it)

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 Tblsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a medium bowl combine the sugar and butter, then stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, add more cream, one tablespoon at a time. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

I'm giving away a copy of Picked to Die to someone who leaves a comment here (random drawing!) about the first Thanksgiving dish you ever cooked yourself. (I roasted my first Turkey when I was 16 because I really wanted to go with my family to my high school's Thanksgiving Day football game.) The drawing will be held on Thanksgiving Day.

Meg, Seth, Bree, Max and Lolly, and all the citizens of Granford, wish you a bountiful harvest and a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  1. Wow! I call that a showstopper! What a beautiful cake. Cranberries are so wonderful in cakes. I think I probably baked a pie first. Either pumpkin or pecan. Must have worked out okay because I don't recall specifics. My mother isn't keen on cranberries, so she never made them for Thanksgiving. Once I discovered them, I always included them in our Thanksgiving meal. My dad and I couldn't get enough of them!

  2. My mother used to make a cake at Christmas like that - so pretty with the cranberries. I'm going to try this! (But I already have a copy of Picked [which I'm halfway through reading, and thought I had LOST it at Crime Bake - terribly unhappy about that - but found it last night and am eagerly finishing it!], so leave me out of the drawing.)

  3. Doesn't good customer service make all the difference? I wonder about companies who can't be bothered.

    What a fun idea and pretty, too.

    My family disliked fruitcake (thanks to the citron). The family alternative was a recipe my mother found in a 1940 something Jacksonville, Florida newspaper. It had dates, raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, and cherries. We replaced the icky maraschino cherries (I really don't believe they are cherries. Perhaps colored and flavored pressed paper.) with fresh cranberries. They added a great flash of color and tartness.

    1. Libby, I've never been wild about citron either. Not so sure about dates. And candied cherries always remind me of cough syrup. I think cranberries are useful in any part of the Thanksgiving meal because their tartness cuts through some of the grease, er, butter.

  4. The first Thanksgiving dish I cooked by myself was the dressing.
    Beautiful looking pound cake and I love cranberries.

  5. I love the story about the customer service. I wish more companies were that responsive. (And the cake looks wonderful!)
    The first Thanksgiving dish that I cooked by myself was a sweet potato casserole. :)

  6. I didn't do any cooking until I left home---so I did the whole dinner my first year away. It turned out pretty darn good, too.

    1. When I was in college, I lived for a year in a dorm that had a kitchenette. For some reason a bunch of my friends who lived on the same hall decided we were going to roast a turkey and make a full dinner for those of us who couldn't make it home for the Thanksgiving holiday. All things considered, the meal came out pretty well. At least nobody died.

  7. My father usually cooked the Thanksgiving turkey, but one year when I was in high school he was ill. So I looked up a recipe and cooking times and decided to do it myself. Unfortunately, the bird had not been thoroughly defrosted. We carved it and served my Dad first. He looke at his plate and said," I think I will just warm this up a little." little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  8. Delectable cake. I made a turkey for the first time ever when I was newly married. Was edible and then I learned and improved. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  9. My sister and I learned to cook at an early age so we always had a some part in meal prep, but I remember gradually being given the responsibility for doing things on my own, starting with the salads: lime Jell-o & Cool Whip, orange Jell-o & carrot, and "Waldorf" salad - apples, nuts, celery.

    The pound cake looks delicious. Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. What a yummy cake! I started with the stuffing and then improvised and added more. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Nancy R here - I had been baking since about age 7, but the first pies - choice of apple, pumpkin and lemon meringue - which I made for my husband was the fall before we were married. I guess they were good because he is still asking for pie almost 50 years later. I love the recipe for the pound cake; cranberries are a family favourite in everything from salads to dressing to desserts.

  12. My son was a baby and I didn't want to make the trek to my parent's house for Thanksgiving so I invited them down to my house thinking that would be easier. I followed the directions on the turkey for how long to cook it but apparently I had a slow oven and it was still half raw. At least it was just the three of us and the little one and not the whole family and they were very patient with me. We stuck it back in the oven and ended up reheating everything else later. Never did fix another turkey, though. lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    1. Turkeys are sneaky that way. I don't think they know what "just right" is. And before Butterball got into the act, they were tough, no matter how they were cooked.

  13. The first thin I ever cooked was stuffing. When I was a kid we always went to my Aunt's for Thanksgiving. I wanted to recreate her chestnut stuffing but had to wing it since she didn't use a recipe. it came out pretty well and I've been making it ever since.

    1. My mother was wedded to the Pepperidge Farm variety--the stuff that comes in a bag. I tried to interest her in something else (rice! sausage! mushrooms!), but we kept going back to that bag. I confess I'm still kind of fond of it.

  14. It looks wonderful, Sheila. That is excellent customer service indeed. And I love your photos too!

    Happy Thanksgiving (weekish)


  15. I was always in charge of the pie, since I was about 11. Of course I always got volunteered to make the mashed potatoes also. Love Thanksgiving. Beautiful cake.

  16. I've always been on pie duty: apple, chocolate-butterscotch cream, pumpkin...whatever the family asks for. I love Thanksgiving, and by the way, the recipe above looks delicious. I love the parentheses..."if you want it" next to the glaze. With all those delicious ingredients, I think we all do! :)

  17. I like maraschino cherries! My mother made an orange glazed loaf cake using them and it was delicious. I also like cranberries, so I know this cake will be great.
    The first Thanksgiving after my husband and I moved to the States I cooked the whole meal by myself and it turned out great. As someone else said, nobody died. It was still weird, though. We lived in an apartment building and neighbors hijacked the meal. They waited until I had finished cooking and invited us to their apartment for dinner, then the guy and my husband carted the turkey downstairs. Being Thanksgiving and not wanting to spoil anything for anyone, I didn't protest. It was 50 years ago and I was very naive.

  18. I can't remember the first dish I ever cooked but I can remember the funniest Thanksgiving meal: A friend and I were both newly single and decided to spend the holiday watching chick flicks and eating. Cooking a whole turkey seemed a bit much for just the 2 of us so we did cornish game hens. They cooked up nicely and we stood there looking at them without a clue as to how one ate a teeny tiny bird. We finally decided to carve it like a turkey and once we picked up those teeny drumsticks we started laughing and couldn't stop!

    1. What a delightful, funny story. So cute like those teeny drumsticks.

  19. Sheila, what a gorgeous cake. Love the cake pan. Must find me one of those!

    Daryl / Avery

  20. I think my first Thanksgiving dish was a turkey also. I was so afraid I was either going to over or under cook it. I turned out fine thankfully.
    The cake looks delicious.

  21. I'm trying to think of the first thing. I know it had something to do with cranberries and it may have been putting the pink lemonade sherbet in cranberry juice in 1965.