Photo by Eric Wolfinger

Cranberries, in some form or another, are an integral part of Thanksgiving dinner. More often than not, however, we mash them into a gelatinous sauce or slop them out of a can, which is arguably the least we can possibly do with this seasonal staple.

But cranberries have the potential to be so much more.

Take this cranberry and polenta coffee cake from husband-and-wife duo Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, for instance. The recipe, which comes from Mazar and Corcos' new cookbook "Super Tuscan," highlights the tart, crisp taste of cranberries in an after-dinner dessert, rather than relegating them to a tangy, colorful goop that only half of your guests will eat.

But make no mistake, we aren't claiming that a cranberry cake can replace cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving menu. We're just saying it might be time to treat our guests to a secondary cranberry dish we didn't just slop out of a can.

Cook Time:50 min

Prep Time:15 min

Total Time:65 min

Servings: 8


3∕4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1∕2 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stoneground

2 teaspoons baking powder

1∕2 teaspoon sea salt

3∕4 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature (see Tip)

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1∕4 cup whole milk

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Confectioner’s sugar, for serving


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush a 10-inch fluted tube pan with oil. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess flour.

2. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whip the sugar, eggs, and orange zest in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed to combine. Gradually beat in the oil. Continue whipping until the mixture is thick and pale, about 3 minutes. (If you using an electric hand mixer, allow 4 minutes.) Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

3. Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed with your fingertips, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and down the entire tube to loosen the cake. Invert the pan to unmold the cake onto the rack and cool completely. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top, slice, and serve.

If you have forgotten to take the eggs out of the refrigerator, here is an easy fix. Put the uncracked eggs in a small bowl and cover them with hot tap water. Let the eggs stand for 5 minutes to lose their chill, drain them, and proceed with the recipe.