Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Pumpkin Cranberry Gift for the Holidays

The Pumpkin Cranberry Gift

During my childhood in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, I often baked quick breads because they were fail proof. As a grown-up I turn to easy, superfood recipes for the health and ease of it. Welcome to pumpkin bread with a holiday twist. Pumpkin is often used in fall and winter dishes, whereas, good for you cranberries and nuts give it a festive flair.
This is the season for savory and sweet breads like I savored last autumn in Vancouver, British Columbia. I woke up in a 30th floor hotel room with a panoramic view of the English bay, Stanley Park, the mountains, and private balcony.  The glitch: I had to take the elevator down to the ground floor for wake-up coffee. One morning I ordered a latte and a slice of pumpkin bread. During a bout of homesickness for Tahoe I thought, “When I get back home I’ll whip up my own pumpkin bread and brew a pot of coffee.” And I did just that this week.
As we edge into winter I enjoyed a slice (more than one) of the warm, spicy pumpkin treat fresh out of the oven. No million dollar city-water view but towering pine trees with the cat and dog nearby are year-round presents. This is my favorite 20th century recipe with a new twist for the mountain lifestyle.

Pumpkin Cranberry Loaf Cake

1 cup and 2 tablespoons cake flour (for a lighter, moist bread)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
 ½ teaspoon allspice
½ cup granulated white sugar
½ cup European style butter with sea salt (plus a bit for greasing loaf pan) 
1 large brown egg
1 cup all-natural pumpkin puree
½-3/4 cup dried cranberries
½ cup nuts, hazelnuts or almonds, chopped
1 teaspoon orange rind (optional)
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

Grease one standard size loaf pan with butter. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside. In another bowl cream sugar and butter.  Add a beaten egg and pumpkin. Stir well. Mix in dry ingredients.  Fold in cranberries and nuts.  Scoop mixture into loaf pan. Spread with a spatula to make batter even. Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour or until it’s golden brown and firm to touch. Cool. Turn out and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 8-10.
This pumpkin loaf turned out perfect. The cranberries gave it a sweet and tart taste, hazelnuts a crunchy texture, and I used more than less sugar for a hardy fall flavor. Pair with tea or coffee. Tie a green or red bow around a loaf (in the pan) and give the baked good to friends and family. It’s the perfect gift for the holiday season.
Motto:  Whenever you wish you were somewhere else, remember you are right where you are supposed to be.

— Cal Orey, M.A.  is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.)  

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