Buckwheat cranberry cake


These little babies came about as a result of a number of on-hand ingredients that helped bring the project together: a few packages of dried cranberries in the cupboard that were originally intended for another use; leftover dark and white chocolate ganaches from a couple of different projects; buckwheat flour on hand and a can of pumpkin purée on the shelf.

I know, I know. My Thanksgiving post was a pumpkin related theme but what the heck - let's do something just a little different.

I recently gave a presentation for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) at Aquinas College here in Grand Rapids on flours, grains and seeds. This only served to fuel my desire to bake more with healthier-for-you whole grains and flours, be they wheat/gluten based or gluten free. In this case buckwheat flour is the star (yes - it's gluten free) and gives these moist-with-hints-of-spice gems an earthy, not too sweet quality.


As I've mentioned in the past, I adore silicone flexi-molds for baking cakes. This time I used my individual 15-well canelé (sometimes spelled cannelé) mold - LOVE that shape. And it worked out quite nicely when it came time to do the ganache garnishing.

Bull's eye!

Bull's eye!

The recipe is my version of Alice Medrich's "dark and spicy pumpkin loaf" from her book Flavor Flours, of which I've become a huge fan. As the name implies, the base recipe is baked in a standard loaf pan, but, being a fan of les petits gâteaux, given the choice, I go small.

The recipe is straight forward and the batter very easy to put together.

  • Heat the oven to 350ºF. The flexi-molds need no preparation - COOL! Although if you decided to bake a loaf you should line the bottom and sides of an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan with parchment paper. 
  • Combine 113 g (1 stick) unsalted melted butter, 190 g (scant 1 cup) sugar and 2 large eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium about 2 minutes until lighter in color.
  • Add 120 g (3/4 cup) white rice flour, 40 g (1/3 cup) buckwheat flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 170g (3/4 cup) pumpkin purée and 70 g (1/2 cup) dried cranberries (or raisins or currants or what-have-you) and blend on low speed until smooth. I had considered also adding some chopped toasted pecans but I forgot!!
  • Scoop or pipe the batter into the flexi-molds, filling about 2/3 full.
  • Bake about 20 minutes (or 45-50 minutes if baking a loaf) until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remember to pay attention to what's happening in your oven! Do I say that often?  Mais, oui!
  • Cool in the flexi-molds on a rack for a good 30 minutes (or two hours for a loaf) then gently un-mold.
  • Enjoy soon or, once cooled, freeze well wrapped and enjoy later. They'll also keep in the fridge well wrapped for about 5 days.

I opted to coat my cooled cakes with dark chocolate ganache. Once that had cooled a bit I filled the center with white chocolate ganache. Not bad, eh? Another option is to blend 4 oz  cream cheese (or mascarpone) with 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon honey and spread a schmear on your mini-cake or your slice if you've gone the loaf route. You decide.


I find these cakes very pleasing - a moist and tender crumb, hints of spice, nuggets of cranberry, rustic buckwheat, a sense of pumpkin without being overwhelming (although Steve, the pumpkin disliker, might argue that point) and a flavorful marriage of chocolates. I like 'em.