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A Thanksgiving Table Set for Two

Nov 19, 2020

I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year. As the CDC tells us, it just isn’t prudent to host gatherings right now. However, my husband and I love a good turkey dinner, and I will still prepare a full holiday meal just for us. Even in this crazy, messy world of 2020, there is much for which to be thankful when we sit down to our table set for two.

Portion sizes will be easily cut down for the mashed potatoes, sage and sausage dressing, roasted butternut squash and shaved Brussels sprouts. I haven’t needed to roast turkey legs ahead of time to make extra stock for the vats of gravy our full table usually requires. My cranberry sauce recipe will be fine with leftovers used in my oatmeal and yogurt, and I still purchased a pretty big turkey because turkey sandwiches and pots of turkey noodle or turkey and dumpling soup are a post-holiday must.

The only thing that is bothering me as I put together next Thursday’s menu is dessert. I have always felt that the major bonus of having a holiday table full of guests was the opportunity to make multiple desserts. Pumpkin pie is a given, because even if nobody wants it on Thanksgiving, it is the most perfect Black Friday breakfast. There is usually another pie, be it pecan or salted nut, or something creamy like buttermilk. The season also always calls for apple pie or a galette, and it wouldn’t be fall without the Cranberry Dessert Cake with Warm Butter Sauce that I have been making since I was just a blushing bride.

The addition of sour cream makes this cake’s texture almost reminiscent of a pound cake. Tart, fresh cranberries dot the moist crumb and are tempered by the luscious warm butter sauce ladled over each serving. I baked one up this week, and Thanksgiving came early as we enjoy slices each evening and sometimes even for breakfast. Pie may get all the fame for this holiday, but Cranberry Dessert Cake with Warm Butter Sauce is something to be thankful for.


Thanksgiving gatherings will look different in 2020, but take comfort in Cranberry Dessert Cake with Warm Butter Sauce.

Cranberry Dessert Cake with Warm Butter Sauce

(adapted from Pillsbury)



2 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream (I have subbed Greek yogurt in a pinch.)

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups fresh cranberries



1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour bottom only of 9x13 pan.

Combine flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Mix well.

In medium bowl, beat sour cream, milk, oil, almond extract and eggs.

Add sour cream mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in cranberries. Spoon into prepared pan.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


FOR THE BUTTER SAUCE: In small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, butter and whipping cream. Bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.

Serve warm sauce over cake.


Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their three dogs ranch near Colome.


12:47 pm - Thu, November 19 2020
Stephanie said:
This looks amazing! And I love the menu ideas for a scaled-down Thanksgiving!

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