Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tis The Season for Deliciousness

Back in the days when I read as many as seventy daily newspapers every week at my job, I was a serious recipe clipper. Most of them went in a file folder and were never whipped up in my kitchen. From among the ones that I did prepare, only a half dozen or so made it into the regular rotation of dishes I serve. Sometimes I tinkered with the original recipe to the point that they were an entirely different thing. One of those is pictured above. A little holiday delicacy I call Lemon Cranberry Bread. When I clipped the recipe it was called something like Edible Fruit Cake. A nod of sorts to the much maligned holiday fruitcake, which by many is considered a treat to avoid at all cost. In that regard the word treat is applied ironically, particularly when you consider the wide array of much more desirable actual treats. The original recipe called for all kinds of candied fruits that I didn't care for and eventually I settled on a blend of just three add-ins that I liked the best for their compatibility and the textural variety they lend to the finished product. The base is a very rich and dense lemony cake that holds up well to the addition of fruit and nuts. The recipe follows. I insist that you enjoy.

Lemon Cranberry Holiday Bread

1 pound butter, brought to room temperature yes, really, an entire pound 
2 1/3 cups sugar
6 eggs I am so fortunate to have fresh farm eggs from my friend Karen
1/3 cup lemon juice preferably fresh squeezed
4 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Approximately 2 cups of fruit and nuts, combined in a bowl with 4 Tablespoons flour and set aside. My favorite combination is 1 10 oz bag of Craisins, 8 oz chopped dates, 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans. I use mini loaf pans because I have never been able to get a full size loaf to bake properly. The batter is so dense that the outside gets overdone while a tunnel of raw goo remains in the center.

Thoroughly blend the butter and sugar. I use my KitchenAid mixer. Add eggs one at a time and allow each one to incorporate completely before adding the next. Add the lemon juice. Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and add. Mix until the batter is creamy and smooth. Add fruit and nuts and fold in by hand. Divide into 8 mini loaf pans that are greased and I recommend lining the bottom with parchment paper. Place loaf pans on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from pans.

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