The Cranberry Panacea


Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food is hosting this week’s WHB, and I’ve got cranberries on my mind. Not the Dolores kind, more the dried fruit sort. As one of my favourite pantry items, I’ve used them pretty frequently over the week, and thought I’d share one my recent recipe discoveries.

There are two explanations for the origin of the name, cranberry. These berries are apparently a favourite food of cranes, and the flower from the cranberry plant is also said to resemble the upper body of a crane. Being unique to the Northern Hemisphere, I have yet to see fresh cranberries being sold here. I’ve heard that these red berries are also nicknamed “bounceberries” because when fresh, they should be firm enough to bounce if dropped!

Here in Sydney, you can get frozen ones from some supermarkets or speciality stores, or processed versions such as cranberry juice and sauce. The dried version is wonderful because they have a condensed sweetness, offset by a slight natural sourness, which pairs well with buttery, creamy foods such as cheesecake. I love adding them to home made muesli bars, little butter cakes, muffins, chocolate puddings and chewy biscuits. Rich in antioxidants and purportedly useful in fighting against tooth decay, you could almost say that adding cranberries to your cakes could reverse the negative effects of eating sugar-laden baked goods! Well, not quite, but making a batch of Julie Le Clerc’s lovely couscous cakes would certainly put a smile in your day.

Instead of the suggested rum or brandy, I have used whisky which I think goes rather nicely with the orange juice. The cakes are chewy from the dried cranberries that dot the interior, and fluffy with some texture from the couscous that turns crunchy around the edges of the cake during the baking process.

Couscous Cakes :

1/4 cup whisky
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 cup couscous
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 170’C. Grease a 12-hole muffin tin.

In a saucepan heat whisky, oil, orange zest and juice. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over hot liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff up couscous with a fork.

Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Fold this mixture into couscous along with remaining dry ingredients and cranberries.

Spoon into prepared tins and bake for 15 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched.

cranberries.jpg couscous.jpg


  1. Anh said,

    April 28, 2007 @ 11:31 am

    This is my first time seeing a couscous cake! I love dried cranberries, they are my snack for the day (together with dried figs)…. Oh, can I use instant couscous for this recipe?

  2. Glenna said,

    April 28, 2007 @ 11:34 am

    I’ve got to try this recipe. It looks so inviting and is a little different. So very cool! Thanks for sending them into weekend herb blogging this week.

  3. Y said,

    April 28, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

    Anh, I think instant couscous would be best, otherwise it might not cook through and the cakes will be gritty.

  4. astrid said,

    May 1, 2007 @ 11:31 pm

    Oh, I love cranberries and I recently dedected couscous for myself, so I certainly will try this recipe. Thank you for sharing and all the information too.

  5. Helen said,

    May 2, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

    What a wonderful idea to use couscous. Must try it…looks gorgeous!

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