Hot Cranberry Bake, a reader recipe by Sue-Sue Harstern of Louisville, Kentucky, was originally published in our November 1992 issue, but it’s so good that we think it deserves a second look. In this simple, crisp-like dessert, Harstern layers fresh apples and cranberries in a two-quart baking dish, then tops the fruit with fresh lemon juice and granulated sugar. No stirring necessary! A crumbly mixture of quick-cooking oats, chopped walnuts (toast them for even more flavor), brown sugar, and melted butter (or margarine) is sprinkled over the fruit. Then the dish is baked at 325˚F for one hour, or until the topping is crisp and golden and the fruit is tender and bubbly underneath. Harstern suggests serving Hot Cranberry Bake warm with vanilla ice cream and we couldn’t agree more. The creamy, sweet ice cream cuts the tartness of the cranberries and dresses up this homey dessert. While we love the recipe as-is, we also like the flexibility of it. You can use any cooking apple—we prefer the flavor and texture of Honeycrisp, Fuji, or Gala, although a combination of any of these apples will also work well. You can easily swap out the walnuts for chopped pecans, if you prefer. You can also add spices to the oat topping for more flavor and warmth. We recommend adding up to 1/2 teaspoon of dried spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or apple pie spice. And if you’re looking for a fantastic dessert that also happens to be dairy-free or vegan, you can make this dish with an equal amount of melted or liquid coconut oil in place of the butter. The coconut oil adds a subtle sweetness to the topping and browns just as nicely as butter.
4 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups quick-cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
Vanilla ice cream
How to Make It
Layer apples and cranberries in a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice; spoon 1 cup sugar over fruit. Set aside.
Combine oats and next 3 ingredients; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened and mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit; bake, uncovered, at 325˚ for 1 hour. Serve dessert warm with vanilla ice cream.