Thursday, January 12, 2012

Retro Recipe: Church Social Cranberry Loaf

A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use. – Washington Irving

Possibly the best cranberry loaf I've ever had – and it's not actually my recipe.
I was hunting through old cookbooks a short time ago. I love doing that because they are always full of “new” ideas – recipes and ingredients that have sadly been pushed aside by modern tastes. 

This recipe is based on one that I found in a small coil-bound book called “Tried ‘N True Favourites: The Wollaston Baptist Churchwomen.” I had no idea where Wollaston was located until my mother told me. The book was a gift from my Aunt Hazel on a trip to Nova Scotia from their home outside Boston. Mystery solved.

Ready for the oven. The cranberries on top help you cut the loaf
in equal pieces and the sugar topping is to die for...
I don’t know the date but from the cover it seriously looks like it’s from the mid 1970s. It has that churchy/hippie/granola look. Bright yellow front, orange line drawing of a cutting board, measuring cup and pot… you know what I mean.

Church group cookbooks were a common occurrence in Canadian towns and villages from the 1950s through the end of the 1970s. They were a very common fundraiser. They seemed to die off after that for some reason.

You could always be sure that the recipes contained were the best of the best from the ladies of the congregation. If there was ever anything that you LOVED at a church social the recipe probably appeared in their cookbook. The ladies were rightly proud of their successes.

This recipe is absolutely no exception. I have to admit, with no pride on my part, that this is possibly the best cranberry loaf I’ve ever eaten. The orange and sugar topping temper the cranberries and turn this loaf into something quite wonderful. Church ladies – gotta love their cooking. My additions? The cranberries on the top and the brown sugar. That's it.

I found the following in the back of that same cookbook. Times were different then, obviously.

How to Preserve a Husband
Be careful in your selection. Do not choose too young, and take only such as have been reared in a good moral atmosphere. Some insist in keeping them in pickle, while others keeping them in hot water. This only makes them sour, hard and sometimes bitter. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well sweetened with smiles and flavoured with kisses to taste; then wrap them in a mantle of charity, keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion, and serve with peaches and cream. Thus preserved they will keep for years.

Thoughts on marriage may have changed, but good food is good food, regardless of recipe age. This one’s really a winner.

This rose perfectly, and no cracking!
Church Social Cranberry Loaf
Prep: 15 min  |  Bake: 1 hour  | Yield 1 loaf
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice (about 2 oranges)
grated rind of 1 orange
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups cranberries, chopped plus some whole ones for decoration
2 tbsp brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. Then add the orange juice and rind. Beat again until well mixed.

Stir together the flour, salt, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and powder. Add into the sugar/orange mixture in two batches with the mixer set on low. 

Coarsely chop the cranberries in a food processor. Then fold them into the batter.

Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 5x9 loaf pan. Press the cranberries into the dough in a straight line down the top.

Sprinkle the top with the sugar and lightly press into the top.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.


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