December 6, 2013
I never thought I’d say this, but I love cranberries. As a kid, I was the ultimate picky eater. I had a few favorite foods, and cranberries weren’t among them. In fact, I didn’t develop a taste for them until a few years ago when I found my Christmas Cake recipe.
The cake is more like thick sugar cookies and very sweet. Combined with the tart berries, it’s wonderful. Another favorite of ours is adding fresh or frozen cranberries to my apple pies. Everyone knows apple pies are delicious. These are even better. I have yet to try fresh cranberry sauce, but that’s on the list for this year.
Every autumn, usually from mid-September until around mid-November in North America, cranberries reach their peak of color and flavor and are ready for harvesting. One of only three fruits native to North America, cranberries grow in the wild on long-running vines in sandy bogs and marshes.
Native Americans first took advantage of the cranberry’s many natural attributes. By mixing mashed cranberries with deer meat, they made a survival food called pemmicana. They also believed in the medicinal value of the cranberry, using the berry in poultices to draw poison from arrow wounds. I haven’t used them in either of these ways, although we have elk meat, so I could try pemmicana. No, I couldn’t.
As we move into the holiday season, I stock up on fresh cranberries. I found out the hard way that it’s impossible to buy fresh cranberries after Christmas. Four or five packages, frozen, will keep our house in cranberry pancakes, pies and Cranberry Christmas Cake throughout the year. The pancakes are self explanatory and the cake is sinfully delicious. Sugar and butter and berries, oh my.
I found this recipe in a cooking magazine over twenty years ago and have made it to rave reviews every Christmas since then.
Now if you’re looking for a light dessert or a low-fat, low-sugar concoction, this is not the one for you. However, if you’re like me, and figure a few weeks out of the year, it’s okay to get off the diet and exercise band wagon, you might want to give this dessert a try.
Christmas Cranberry Cake
2 cups sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Whipped cream, optional (not optional at our house)
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add butter and extract; beat 2 minutes. Stir in flour just until combined. Stir in the cranberries and pecans. Spread in a greased 13x9x2 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out lean. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
Yield: 16-20 servings
What are your favorite cranberry recipes. I’d love to find more.