Happy holidays, everyone!

For me, the holiday season is all about OD-ing on baking. There’s really nothing like the smell of goodies baking in the oven to make your house feel Christmas-y.

Lucky for us, this holiday season is also about serious cleaning, since there are little dust bunnies hanging out in the corners of the rooms. Thus I’ll get straight to the point (so Nathan doesn’t end up cleaning the whole house before I get off the computer) and give you the recipe for a festive, yet super-easy, German apple and cranberry cake. Because it’s German, you can sound all snooty and call it a kuchen, if you wish. Sadly, there is no umlaut over that ‘u’.

This recipe is adapted from the one on Amatuer Gourmet, which itself was taken from the French Laundry cookbook. Coincidentally, if you want the bragging rights for actually cooking something out of that crazy book, this is probably one of your best options.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus butter for the baking pan
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup milk or light cream
3 to 4 apples
1 cup cranberries or firm blueberries
Cinnamon sugar: 1 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350F and generously butter a 9-in round cake pan.

In a large bowl, using a mixer or by hand, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light. Add the egg and beat to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Add a little bit of the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Then add a little bit of the milk and gently stir again. Keep alternately adding the dry stuff and milk and gently stirring after each addition. It’s important not to overbeat the dough or you’ll end up with a tough cake.

Peel and core the apples. Then slice them into thin (~1/4-inch) wedges.

Pour the batter into the pan. Gently press the apple slices, about 1/4 inch apart and core side down, into the batter, just until they stay in place. Place the apple slices all around the outside edge of the cake (you can check out what I did on the picture).

Pile most of the cranberries in the middle of the cake, where you didn’t put apples. Also place some cranberries on the very outside edge of the cake.

Sprinkle the top of the kuchen evenly with the cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester or skewer inserted in the center of the kuchen comes out clean. Set on a rack to cool briefly, or let cool to room temperature. Serve from the pan.