Baking for the Holidays

loafNovember already? Yes — fall is slowly slipping into winter, and the holidays are not that far off anymore. I always look forward to this time of year; planning my Thanksgiving dinner, the anticipation of Christmas, celebrating my daughter’s birthday. There’s so much to look forward to. This year, I am also hoping for a real winter. Although I’m not a fan of cold weather or snow (I can’t walk on snow!), I think it’s time for nature to get back on track. The chances of that happening are pretty slim though. I’m not so sure we’ll ever have a white Christmas again. One thing I can always count on, however, is spending a delicious end of the year with my family, cooking the foods we’ve always loved and coming up with new recipes.
Last Friday I decided to get into the spirit a little early and spent the afternoon listening to Christmas music while baking a cake. I came up with a recipe that I’m sure you will love as much as we did: a lemon-cranberry loaf. My husband, who doesn’t really like sweets and desserts much, keeps telling me how good it is every time I serve him a slice. With its bright red cranberries and tangy glaze, it’s a pretty cake, too. I think it would be perfect for breakfast or coffee this holiday season, so keep it in mind, especially if you’re having family staying over.
Here’s the recipe:

Lemon-Cranberry Loaf
Serves 8

  •  230g all-purpose flour
  • 6 1/2 tbsps ground almonds
  • pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • zest of two lemons (you will need the juice of 1 1/2 lemons for the cake, the rest for the glaze)
  • 200g soft butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 100g dried cranberries, plus extra for decorating
  • 125g powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 28 cm rectangular cake pan with baking paper. Mix flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest. In a standing mixer, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one to the butter and sugar mixture while letting the machine run. Fold in the dry ingredients in three batches, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack. To make the glaze combine the powdered sugar and about 1-2 tbsps lemon juice until the mixture reaches a nice consistency, neither too thick nor too thin. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Give the glaze a good whisk and pour it over the cake using a spoon. Decorate with the extra cranberries.

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