Cranberry Tea Loaf

Cranberry Tea LoafHoliday Hurry Up
Well, we survived Thanksgiving. For those of you who were out there in the trenches on Black Friday battling, good on ya. I used to do Black Friday when my kids were younger. Not because I needed to get the best deal on the latest impossible to find piece of plastic from China, but because it was kinda fun to get caught up in the holiday frenzy.

Now? I can make my own frenzy, thank you very much. Besides, my kids have moved on from the fun stuff. It’s all gift cards and clothes now. (Zzzzzzzzzzzz). Gone are the big boy bike reveals and the excited screaming of Christmas morning. We now have to wake them up…sigh.

The past few days could definitely be put in the frenzy category. But, I can’t figure out why I feel so anxious about the holidays. I’ve been freaking out about trying to get things done and it’s not even December yet. Sure, I picked through some of the fifty million Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails that landed in my inbox to take advantage of some really great deals. But, I do that every year—so that can’t be it. Yes, I will be hosting a couple of get-togethers with friends. But again, I do that every year so no reason to panic…except that I haven’t really started to figure out what I am serving and the party is next weekend. So, while panic may not be appropriate it would be a good idea to start planning.

I am certain that some of the anxiety is self-inflicted. See, I always have this impossible Norman Rockwell vision of how the holiday season will unfold. (Think warm fires, plaid ribbons, eggnog, and velvet.) This almost always includes the creation of homemade baked goods for friends and neighbors that we joyously hand out to one and all—spreading cheer for all to hear. The reality is, I ain’t got that much time.

I did manage to make this Cranberry Tea Loaf over the weekend with some leftover cranberries. It is the quintessential flavor of the holidays. And, when you bake it in little foil loaf pans, it becomes a perfect hostess gift (or peace offering to your neighbors who, because they are awesome, throw the errant baseballs back over the fence without complaint).

Even better, give it the Martha Stewart treatment and wrap it in a cute kitchen towel. It’s a very good thing….

Cranberry Tea Loaf Recipe
Adapted from the Silver Palette Cookbook

Cranberries freeze well, so purchase several extra bags now while they are still available. This recipe is easily doubled.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup unfiltered apple cider
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 beaten eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups cranberries
butter for pan

Preheat oven to 350º F and butter an 8” loaf pan, or two smaller pans

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl.

Stir together wet ingredients into another bowl. Add the melted butter last.

Make a well in the center of the dry mix, and pour in the wet mixture plus the orange zest.

Gently mix from the center out. Don’t over-mix. Your batter should be lumpy.

Scoop the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s) and bake until a sharp knife, inserted into the center, comes out clean (about 45 minutes for the large loaf, less for a smaller loaf).

Cool before removing from the pan.

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