By Cat, Feb 2008 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Cranberry bread adds a festive flair to any holiday table, but I like to make it any time of the year that I can get good quality fresh cranberries (you could use frozen, too). You could also use fresh blueberries or huckleberries instead of the cranberries, for a summer treat.
I have two wonderful cranberry bread recipes. My favorite is this holiday recipe from Denmark. It is light but quite rich and sweet so that one thin slice, spread with rich butter, is enough. You make it about a month in advance (I make it just after Thanksgiving), then wrap it in oiled parchment and let it rest in a cool place (like a root cellar, cool cupboard, or the fridge), until Christmas – much like as you would for a fruitcake, except this isn’t heavy like traditional fruitcakes. The keeping time allows the flavors to blend and mature, and also allows the bread, once it has been cut, to keep for a longer time than most breads.
I also like Cranberry-Orange Bread with Nuts which is a nice complex of flavors, not too sweet (unless you opt to add more sugar).
Cranberry Keeping Cake
This recipe is adapted from Fancy Pantry, by Helen Witty. She adapted her recipe from Norrland’s Cake, a recipe in Smorgasbord Cookbook, by Anna Olsson Coombs.
Do not use aluminum pans; because of the acidic nature of this batter, it will leach toxic aluminum into the batter. Also, do not use non-stick pans, as the coating is toxic. I prefer to use either glass or tinned steel pans.
When wrapping the baked and cooled cakes, wrap first with parchment paper and then with foil, to keep the aluminum from leaching into the cakes.
I highly recommend grinding your own spices; note that if you grind the cardamom, remove the seeds from the pod, then grind only the seeds. See Herbs & Spices: Ancient Medicine through Food, and Individual Herbs & Spices, A – F for more about the spices in this recipe.
I’ve included an adaptation (blue italics) to use more wholesome flours and sweeteners. If you make any of those changes, make ALL the suggested changes (flour, sweetener and added milk/orange juice) to get the right balance of moisture.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 2 ½ cups cranberries, rinsed and drained, divided portions
- ⅔ cup Rapadura or white cane sugar (or ¼ cup raw honey*)
- 1 tsp finely grated Organic orange zest
- ½ cup (1 stick) real butter, preferably from pastured cows
- 2 ¼ cups unbleached white flour (or 1 3/4 cups whole wheat or sprouted wheat flour plus ¼ cup coconut flour *)
- 2 cups Rapadura or white cane sugar (or 1 cup maple syrup and ½ tsp powdered stevia extract; add both to cranberry mixture*)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¾ tsp unrefined sea salt
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup real sour cream or creme fraiche
- 2 Tbsp milk or orange juice (stir into sour cream) only if using honey, maple syrup and whole or sprouted grain flour with coconut flour *
- 2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tsp filtered water
- ⅔ to 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 2 small mixing bowls
- large mixing bowl
- whisk and fork
- 2 loaf pans, 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5″ Do not use aluminum pans.
- waxed paper
- aluminum foil
‘* The coconut flour is to absorb extra liquid when using maple syrup and honey instead of granulated sugar and when adding milk or orange juice to the sour cream.
- Cranberries: Combine 1½ cups cranberries with sugar and orange zest in a saucepan. If using honey instead of sugar (in the cranberry mix) plus maple syrup and stevia instead of sugar (in the flour mixture below), add these sweeteners to the cranberries.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have popped and the syrup has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- While the berries cook, chop the remaining 1 cup of cranberries coarsely. Add them to the cooked berries and set the mixture aside to cool.
- Batter: Melt butter over very low heat until creamy, not liquid. Set aside to cool.
- Butter two loaf pans; line them with baking parchment or waxed paper, and then butter the lining. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Flour mixture: Sift together flours, Rapadura sugar (if using), spices and salt into a small bowl. Note: if using maple syrup and stevia instead of sugar, they are to be added to the cranberry mix, above.
- Beat eggs well in large bowl with whisk. Beat in the sour cream (mixed with milk/orange juice if using the alternative sweeteners in the recipe), then the dissolved baking soda. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients just until mixed. Stir in melted butter and then the cranberry mixture and nuts, just until blended.
- Bake: Divide batter between the two prepared pans, and smooth the tops. Settle the batter by lifting each pan a few inches from the work surface and then dropping it to the counter.
- Bake in center of preheated oven about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or until the center springs back when pressed lightly.
- Cool in pan on wire racks for 15 minutes. Then remove from the pans and cool completely on the rack.
- Store: Remove the paper and wrap the cakes closely in foil (I prefer to wrap the first with parchment paper and then the foil, to avoid contact of the aluminum with the keeping cake). Store in cool cupboard or refrigerator, or wrap for freezing and freeze. They are ready to serve after a few days, but continue to improve for weeks. Frozen cake should be thawed in its wrapper to prevent sogginess.
Assembly or Serving Suggestions
- Cake can be stored for long periods of time in a cool place or a freezer, if properly wrapped. Frozen cake should be thawed in its wrapper to prevent sogginess; remove wrapper after it has completely thawed.
- Sift powdered sugar over the top.
- Decorate top with candied cherries and limes, to create a vine pattern on the top.
- Slice cake very thin and spread with butter or cream cheese, or eat just plain (it’s very rich, on its own).
- For a dessert, place a slice in the bottom of a dessert bowl; place a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream on top.
- Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty, copyright 1986 and published by Workman Publishing Co., New York, New York.
- Smorgasbord Cookbook, by Anna Olsson Coombs (cited in Fancy Pantry)