’07 Holiday Gifts: Sweet Loaves
Come one, come all! Welcome to Straight from the Farm’s First Annual Holiday Gift Idea Round-Up! I want to give you all a virtual gastronomic goodie bag of holiday treats similar to the ones I’m giving my friends and family this year. This week’s recipes will all be part of the package I’d like to put under your tree where I able to fly around the world like Mr. Clause. I don’t think I’d like the shimmying down the chimney part though. You’d open your front door for me, right?
Silly dreams of trotting reindeer around the world aside, I do apologize that I was MIA for a few days while I dealt with some other pressing matters. I wish I had some grand excuse like jetting off to Aruba, but I don’t. While I could bore you with the mundane details, I’d rather regale you with one of the two remaining cranberry recipes I’ve been talking about since the beginning of the month. Gosh, I’m such a procrastinator! Forgive me.
Thankfully, this cranberry pumpkin bread is worth the wait. Two of my favorite and perfectly seasonal flavors in one moist and warmly spiced bread…it was a no-brainer addition to my holiday food gifts list. Judging from how much time I spend dreaming up recipes and writing for this blog, you might have already guessed I’m one of those crafty people that often gives homemade gifts. Surprisingly though, I’ve rarely given food gifts. Instead it’s been such memorable items as hand-knit scarves, hand-bound journals, hand-sewn bags made from placemats, hand-crafted ornaments, and even a hand-crocheted baby blanket for my nephew that got stolen out of my car (!) on Christmas eve one year.
This year is different though. It’s the first year I have a blog and a more defined “foodie” personality that most of my friends and family know well so they’re kinda expecting me to show off my prowess. Plus I had one special food gift I just had to make for my friend Fred this year and that got the ball rolling. I can hardly wait to tell you about what I made for Fred, but I promised you these last few cranberry recipes before I get embarrassingly (or rather more embarrassingly) behind schedule.
The recipe after the jump is written for two larger loaves, but I opted for five mini loaves so I’d have enough to share and to keep one for myself. I wish I had been foresighted enough to take a picture of how I wrapped them up for final presentation. But I wasn’t. So here’s what I did: after they cooled completely, I wrapped each loaf in clear plastic wrap. Then I took a piece of parchment paper cut just short of the width of the loaf and wrapped it around the loaf, securing it with a piece of tape. Finally, I wrapped a piece of wide maroon ribbon around the center of the loaf, foregoing a bow for a cleaner look, by securing the ribbon flat with a piece of double-sided tape. Refer to the sloppy sketch below on the off chance that will make it any clearer. After I’d wrapped the loaves in this manner, I sealed them in nice clear bags and placed a tag on the outside describing the bread.
I can draw better than this, I swear!
By the way, this is one of those recipes that I’d love to give credit where credit is due, but alas, I’m not sure where I originally came upon it. It’s existed for several years on a handwritten scrap of paper in my hodgepodge recipe binder.
CRANBERRY PUMPKIN BREAD
1 c. margarine, softened
3 c. sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
3 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 ½ t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 ½ t. ground cloves
1 ½ t. freshly grated nutmeg
14 oz. can of pumpkin puree or 2 c. homemade
2 c. cranberries, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9” x 5” bread pans with non-stick spray.
Cream sugar and margarine. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in pumpkin. Combine all dry ingredients together and slowly incorporate them into the pumpkin mixture, mixing just until moist. Fold in cranberries, being careful not to overmix the batter.
Divide batter between prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes until bread springs back to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Make a great holiday gift. Also freezes well for later use.
(makes 2 large loaves or 5 mini loaves)