Archived entries for cranberries

Cranberry-Almond Olive Oil Cake

Every apartment in New York has its quirks. Our ceiling mysteriously cracks and the fireplace sometimes serves as a rainwater-delivery pipe. The scent of takeout food (and other substances) fills the stairwell, and the hookah bar across the courtyard keeps turning its music up higher in the hopes of luring some customers.

And in winter there are the cold drafts. Temperatures at foot level near my desk at home drop, and wind actually blows across the floor, I swear. That first cold whoosh has me shrieking and running back to the kitchen.

With the oven on and something fragrant baking, I tell myself I can face another winter. A slice of this lovely cake and a cup of tea helps a lot.

I am very into olive oil baked goods these days, and this is another winner. The recipe comes from Gina DePalma, the pastry chef at the famed Babbo restaurant, via my friend Olga of Sassy Radish. It’s a shockingly easy to whip up, but quite elegant when you’re done.

And it’s delicious. The delicate crumb and almond flavor are perfect on their own, though my addition of tart cranberries wakes it up a little. Along with citrus, cranberries are one of my strongest winter cravings, and this cake was a good vehicle for their bright flavor. In summer you could make a delicious version with red currants or sour cherries, but then you might not be quite so eager to turn on the oven.

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Mrs. L’s Pumpkin Bread (with Cranberries!): All the Flavors of Fall

I had a wonderful first grade teacher we called Mrs. L. She played guitar and taught us to sing “If I Had A Hammer.” We memorized Shel Silverstein and Robert Frost poems and wrote “books” of our own, illustrating them and writing dedications and all (that was my favorite part.) We counted down one hundred days of school and celebrated the hundredth with a hundred-yard dash, one hundred pieces of popcorn, and any number of other countable things in hundred-unit quantities.

At some point during that year (probably exactly this time of year) we baked pumpkin bread in her classroom and brought home a slice with the recipe. My mother—though a bit wary of the snot and dirt that might be incorporated into first grade classroom cooking—saved the recipe, and it’s the one I still follow every fall. I know Shiv already recommended a pumpkin bread recipe, but the more the merrier, right? And hey, it’s Halloween!

Today I played around a bit, adding tart cranberries and orange zest and substituting a bit of whole-wheat flour, throwing in a sprinkle of cloves and quarter-teaspoon of molasses—I’m not sure the recipe would still be recognizable to Mrs. L. She’d probably still recognize me, though. I don’t look that different from how I looked back then.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread

Adapted from Susan Lohrer

Sift together in large bowl:
1 1/2 cup flour (I used 1 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 C sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix in small bowl:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 C cooking oil
2 eggs (whisked)
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
zest of one small orange
sprinkle ginger, cloves
1/4 teaspoon molasses (optional)

1 cup fresh cranberries, picked through (frozen is probably fine, don’t thaw, just throw them in.)

Combine pumpkin mixture with flour mixture. Do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in cranberries. Pour into a greased loaf dish (original recipe says “well-Pammed.” Does anyone use that stuff anymore? Is it bad for the ozone layer?) Bake 50-60 minutes at 350. Loaf is done when a toothpick comes out clean. This recipe makes one loaf. Let cool before serving—the flavors mellow and this really is tastier about half an hour out of the oven.

Notes: If you make mini-loaves or muffins from this, the cooking time is shorter. The cranberries are optional and kind of tart. I like it that way, but this recipe is traditional and great without them.

Also, If you are left with some pumpkin puree and don’t know what to do, I highly recommend this recipe for pumpkin orzo with sage.

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