Saturday, December 08, 2007

Recipe: Cranberry Pecan Bread

Thank you E. for the lovely, thoughtful gift of fresh unshelled pecans! I just had to use these gorgeous chocolate-smelling babies. I wanted to make a buttermilk banana cake but those rotting pisang emas were a bit hard to come by so I thought I'd keep celebrating the season with some cranberry nut bread.

The funny thing about cranberries is that I don't think I really appreciate them for a long time. I associated them with runny turkey sauce or dried indestructable things that you chewed on camping trips trails. This is because I never had the fresh ones, which are raisin sweet and tangy bursts of goodness.

I tried two recipes. None really make bread, but then I must admit, I don't really like it to be a bread. The first one will make a classic butter cake where, if you beat hard and fast, the crystals of cake will fluff and seperate lightly.

The second recipe will make a more classic coffeecake, crumby and with a crusty sugared cake-top. I like both but I think I am partial to the first one. It's a golden brown, nutty, slightly spicy cake with these gorgeous interludes of moist plump cranberries.

To me, the texture and varied tastes of the spices, zest (you can use anything citrus and light, lemon, lime or orange) and the brandy really give the cake a kick but if it is too strong for you, you can omit it.

Also, while all pecans can be used, I tend to mix macadamia and pecan for a milder, smoother flavour. The taste of all pecans winds up being more dark and heaty. I'm not a huge fan of walnuts as I feel they have a woodier flavour.

Cranberry Nut Bread (1)

185g/1.5 C self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
200g unsalted butter, softened
230g/1 C caster sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons grated lemon/lime/orange zest
80ml/1/3 C milk
1 Tablespoon brandy
1.25C fresh whole cranberries
200g/1.25 C pecan and macadamia nuts

(1) Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grind the pecans and macadamia nuts in a food processor. Soak the cranberries in the brandy.
(2) Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light yellow. Add the eggs slowly and add the vanilla, zest, the spices and the nuts.
(3) Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Add flour mixture and milk alternately and then at the end, add the cranberries and brandy.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is dark golden and comes away slightly from the side of the tin. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Cranberry Nut Bread (2)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated lemon/lime/orange zest
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans and macadamias

(1)In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
(2) Stir in buttermilk, egg, butter, cranberries and nuts just until moistened.
(3) Bake at 170 degrees C for 50min or until it test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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