Have you ever seen those Ocean Spray commercials for cranberry juice with the people out standing in the bogs surrounded by floating little red and white berries? Do you wonder if cranberry bogs are as picturesque and fun as they seem? I’m sure they are not always so fun, but I have always wanted to go stand in a filled bog like that, swimming (I know they’re not swimming) through hoards of cranberries. If you want to see what I’m talking about or read more about how cranberries are harvested, you can read about it on the Ocean Spray website. It’s seriously awesome!Cranberries are harvested in the fall and have become a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. At Thanksgivings growing up, I always left the cranberry sauce untouched on my plate, and I never even wanted to try my mother’s pumpkin-cranberry bread pudding. Cranberries were just not appealing to me. They were so tart and tangy really just a mystery to me. For example, why is it that they naturally get thick when you cook them without using any sort of thickener like gelatin? And the answer is (*drumroll*): Cranberries contain a high level of Pectin, which is a carbohydrate naturally found in the flesh and skin of certain fruits. When cooked, the Pectin creates a natural gel and allows the fruit to set. Pretty neat!
These days, I have grown to love my mother’s pumpkin-cranberry bread pudding, and I had to ask her to make it this year (because whether or not I eat it, our Thanksgiving would be incomplete without it). This holiday season I discovered the versatility of the cranberry in my own cooking. For Thanksgiving, I made Bon Appetit’s cranberry lime pie, which I’ve also made two times since then for Christmas parties.
A trend that has risen recently in the food blogging and Instagram world is Babka. What is Babka? It is a Jewish bread that is rolled with, usually, a chocolate and cinnamon filling, cut lengthwise in half, and twisted together to make a gorgeous, layered loaf. Like I said, the filling is traditionally chocolate and it is often topped with a sort of streusel; but most recently, Babka has been seen in many variations with different fillings and combinations. This variation stood out to me as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed because of a picture of the finished bread being carefully brushed with melted butter. How could I resist that?
The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour and is very easy to follow. Warning: this bread does prove to be difficult if you want morning toast. The sticky, yummy goodness makes it hard to get out of the toaster, but it can definitely be done if you’re desperate!!:)
—happy holidays! xo