This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was selected by my good buddy Jessica of A Singleton in the Kitchen: not-just-for-Thanksgiving cranberry shortbread cake. With a name like that you'd think I'd have noticed this recipe on one of the many occasions I've sat down with the book and flipped through the pages. Somehow, though, it's never caught my eye. Even upon a first read of the recipe, I wasn't terribly intrigued - cranberry jam sandwiched between layers of shortbread - not the kind of recipe that I'd be running to the kitchen to make immediately. Boy was I ever wrong about this cake though; it may well be my new favorite recipe from Dorie's Baking!
The first step in making the cake is to make the cranberry jam, which comes together in minutes on top of the stove. In addition to cranberries, the jam includes orange zest, juice and even the orange segments (I highly recommend cutting the segments over a measuring cup to collect the juice that escapes so you can use it as well). I cooked the jam with the minimum amount of sugar Dorie suggests, but wound up adding another 1/4 cup afterward as it was just too tart for me. The aroma of the jam as it cooked was amazing and smelled just like the holidays. Cranberry and orange pair beautifully and this jam was no exception.
As the jam cools, you can bring together the shortbread dough. The dough is divided in half and encloses the cranberry filling. I rolled the bottom layer out some but wound up pressing with my fingers to fit it completely across the bottom of the springform pan. I was unclear on whether we were to use the entire batch of cranberry jam for the filling and in the end, I didn't. I spread an even, thin-ish layer that covered the dough completely and stuck the remaining filling in the fridge for another day. The top layer of dough is rolled and fitted over the jam then just before popping the cake in the oven, it is brushed lightly with water and sprinkled with sugar (I used turbinado sugar).
I tried my first slice of cake a few hours after I pulled it from the oven. The sweet, buttery shortbread was a great pair for the slightly tart cranberry filling. I liked it a lot, but thought it was missing something. I went back and read Dorie's serving suggestion in the book and found she recommended a scoop of ice cream to go with the cake. So, the next day I topped my second slice with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream and was blown away - the ice cream completed the dessert for me. Plus, overnight the texture of the shortbread had become slightly more doughy and 10x more delicious. I was such a big fan I could easily have eaten this whole cake myself, but instead I shared with Shane's dad who emailed me to say it was a hit at his office too.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it's so adaptable. Dorie suggests an apple filling or any kind of jam you favor, and I think each adaptation would be as delicious as the original. Many thanks to Jessica for helping me to discover this wonderful cake! You can find the recipe on her site here or on pages 208-209 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.