Cranberry, vanilla and quince travel cake

  • medium
  • 8
  • 1 hour 40 minutes

This beautifully neat vanilla cake from Simon Jenkins will stay moist and fresh for up to two days at room temperature, so it’s a perfect make-ahead bake for the festive period. Filled with a core of set cranberry and quince gel, it’s a stunning creation that will finish off a winter dinner party with a bang.

Simon uses a loaf tin with a pipe insert to create the hole in the centre of the cake, but you could also serve the gel alongside the cake if preferred.

First published in 2019




Vanilla cake batter

  • 175g of egg
  • 160g of caster sugar
  • 95g of double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 25g of trimoline
  • 0.4g of salt
  • 175g of T55 flour
  • 3.5g of baking powder
  • 65g of unsalted butter, melted and warm, plus extra for greasing
  • 50g of sunflower oil

Poached Cranberries

  • 500g of frozen cranberries
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 300ml of water
  • 2 vanilla pods, split and seeds scraped
  • 15g of mixed spice

Poached Quince

  • 300ml of water
  • 100g of caster sugar
  • 2g of citric acid
  • 1 quince, peeled

Cranberry gel

  • 10g of caster sugar
  • 9g of gellan gum


  • 20x8x7cm loaf tin with lid
  • 2cm pipe insert
  • Food mixer with paddle attachment


Begin by making the cake. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together the eggs, sugar, salt, double cream and trimoline. Split and scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the mixture (reserving the pod for later), then mix the flour and baking powder together and add to the mixture through a sieve. Continue to mix until completely smooth, then slowly add the melted butter and oil and mix once more until fully incorporated
Preheat an oven to 170°C fan/gas mark 4 with a small pan of water on the bottom shelf. Grease and line a 20x8x7cm loaf tin with baking paper. To create the core of cranberry gel in the centre you will need a loaf tin with a pipe insert, which can be found online. Otherwise, you can bake the cake without. If using a pipe insert, ensure it is well greased along with the loaf tin
Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin then cover with the lid (if you do not have a lid then just bake as an open loaf cake). Bake for 20 minutes, then turn and bake for a further 15– 20 minutes to ensure an even bake. Remove the lid and use a skewer to ensure the cake is cooked, then remove from the tin and leave to cool completely
While the cake cools, poach the fruit. For the cranberries, place all the ingredients (except the cranberries) into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the cranberries and simmer for 5–10 minutes until they start to break down, then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse and cool
For the quince, cut out 3 discs around 7mm thick and 3cm in diameter, then roughly chop the rest of the fruit (you will need 100g of roughly chopped quince in total). Bring the water, sugar and citric acid to the boil, then add the reserved vanilla pod from making the cake. Add the quince discs and trimmings and cook gently for 10–15 minutes until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool
To make the cranberry gel, mix the gellan gum with the caster sugar. Weigh out 300g of the poached cranberry mixture (reserving the rest) and sprinkle in the gellan-sugar and mix lightly. Set aside for 2 minutes
Add the cranberry mixture to a saucepan and gently warm, stirring regularly to ensure it does not stick. Once up to the boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Drain the quince and add 100g of the poached trimmings to the cranberries (reserving the discs for garnish). Transfer the cranberry gel to a piping bag and place in the fridge
By this point, the cake should have cooled completely, and you are now ready to assemble it. If you have used a pipe insert then remove it to reveal a perfect core. Fill the hole in the cake with the gel, ensuring it is completely filled, or if you didn't use the pipe insert then reserve the gel to serve on the side.
Clean up the edges and leave until the gel has set, then cut the ends off the cake for a neat finish. Finally, decorate the top of the cake with the remaining poached cranberries, poached quince discs and one of the split vanilla pods. This cake will keep for up to 2 days if covered at room temperature
First published in 2019

Simon Jenkins is an award-winning pastry chef and consultant who has years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens.

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