Cranberries are native North American fruit with relatives growing wild in the bogs and marshes of Northern Europe. When the Pilgrims arrived in America, they were instructed in extensive use of the cranberry by the Native Americans. The Indians ate cranberries raw and cooked, and pounded them into pemmican with meat and fat for use during the winter. The mashed fruit was used on wounds to draw out poisons and infections, and the berries where used for dye in making rugs and blankets. We assume that the North American Indians brought cranberries to the first Thanksgiving dinner, since the fruit would have been plentiful at that time. Among the Delaware tribe in New Jersey, the berries were known as the symbol of peace, and Chief Pakimintzen, who distributed cranberries often at tribal peace feasts, came to be known as “Cranberry Eater.”
I can’t imagine winter holidays without cranberry dish on a table!
For the cake:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (for the cake and decoration)
For the glaze:
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- red food coloring (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 1-lb. loaf pan.
In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Set this aside as well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until fully incorporated.
Reduce mixer speed and alternatively beat in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of sour cream mixture, and repeat, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Beat until blended and smooth, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in one cup of cranberries (save some for serving).
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 55-60 minutes, until top springs back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack. Cool completely before icing.
For the glaze, whisk together lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar until there are no lumps. If you like you can add a red coloring for the color or cranberry juice. Drizzle over cooled cake.