Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Rootitoot Hard Sauce

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Rootitoot Hard Sauce


2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses, any kind except blackstrap
2 tsp grated lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 eggs, lightly beaten


Put the cranberries, sugar and about a Tbsp of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the berries begin to pop. Continue stirring for up to 10 minutes until it gets to a thick consistency. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Wash and dry the saucepan.

Again in the saucepan, stir together the butter, brown sugar, milk, maple syrup and molasses over medium heat. Bring it to a gentle simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Don't worry if the milk separates a little, that doesn't matter. Remove from heat and add the lemon or orange zest.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper. (Yes, regular black pepper.) Add the butter/maple syrup mixture to the dry ingredients. When almost smooth, add the eggs and grated ginger.

Spray a bundt pan, cake pan or cheesecake pan with baking spray. (You can also use ramekins or egg molds if you like.) Pour a little less than half the mixture into the pan and then add about half the cranberry compote. Add the rest of the batter. Top with the remaining cranberry compote and drag a knife or spoon gently through it for a marbled effect.

Put 1 1/4 cups of water in the Instant Pot. Put the pan on the trivet and close the lid. No need to cover the cake. Set the valve to Sealing. Push Pressure Cook (or Manual) and adjust time using the + and - buttons to get to 55 minutes. (If using ramekins, set time for 30 minutes, egg molds 18 minutes.)

While it's cooking, make the hard icing part of the Rootitoot Hard Sauce and put it in the freezer or fridge so it has time to chill before the cake is done.

When the pot beeps that the cake is done, leave it for 10 minutes natural release, then flip the valve to Venting. When the pin drops, open the pot and remove the cake. Let it cool on the counter for 15 minutes or so. Use this time to whip the cream.

Serve warm with lumpy, delicious Hard Sauce.

Rootitoot Hard Sauce
Traditional Hard Sauce is an English thing, usually a hard, breakable chunk of firmly chilled buttercream icing laced with brandy or rum. But my mother always did it more like this. The combination of smooth, lightly sweetened cream studded with hard lumps of brandy-laced icing was a special treat she made only once a year at Christmas to go with warm plum pudding or mincemeat pie or tarts.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted after measuring
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp brandy, whiskey or rum
1-2 Tbsp cream or milk, if needed

1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and liquor until completely smooth. It should be very thick, a little thicker than icing on a cake. Add extra powdered sugar to make it firmer or a little milk to thin it to get to a very thick icing consistency.
Spread this about 1/4” thick on a sheet of parchment or tin foil and put it in the fridge or freezer for about 15 to 30 minutes.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until almost stiff peak stage. Get the chilled mixture out of the fridge or freezer and use a large knife to quickly and coarsely chop it into 1/2” pieces.
Gently fold these chunks into the whipped cream. The hard pieces of chilled icing should be lumpy throughout the whipped cream. Serve over the warm cake.