Cranberry Cardamom Bread

Whenever Roo has school vacation I feel pressured into making sure there’s food in the house so that he doesn’t go back to his old ways of living on takeout.

While there isn’t anything wrong with treating yourself once in a while, Roo’s love for Foodler, and Foodler’s love for reminding him what he used to eat as a bachelor, makes me nervous.  Cheeseburgers, chicken parm subs, and pizza, lots of pizza; meals that contribute to high cholesterol levels and make Roo’s doctor say things like “statins.”

Even though I’ll be at work this week, I’m comforted by the fact that I left soup, potstickers and noodles for Roo to have for lunch.

As for breakfast, that’s a little trickier.  Roo is not one who likes to eat anything in the morning so it usually has to be something enticing like “breakfast cake.”

“Breakfast cake” is a term Roo coined months ago, after I started making healthier cakes that lacked frosting, were only slightly sweet, and great with a cup of coffee.  It was a phrase that sounded all too perfect.  And because of that, I couldn’t stop.  I’ve been making “breakfast cake” every weekend since.

This week’s “breakfast cake” was inspired a bag of cranberries I found in the back of my fridge.  With New Year’s approaching, I’ve had a sudden urge to clean and organize everything in the apartment.  The downside is that I find things like an old bag of cranberries that I was suckered into buying because the clever labeling read, “Use One, Freeze One.”

I forgot to freeze the second one.

But, cranberry cardamom bread was made, and like most spiced goods, this cake gets better the longer it sits.

If you’ve never had cardamom before, it’s a spice that I can only describe as citrusy (sure, that’s a word).  The orange zest and cranberries in this cake only enhance cardamom’s flavor; a potpourri of mid-winter awakening.

The outside of the cake is slightly caramelized, yielding a soft, pleasant crunch as you take your first bite.  The crumb is more delicate than for example, a squash based cake, but in no way does it shrink away from the bold, tart cranberries.  The slight sweetness pairs well with the berries that burst mid-baking.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning so that I can have another slice of this for breakfast.

As long as Roo doesn’t beat me to the last slice first.

Adapted from Chez Us

Makes 1 Loaf

Ingredients

1 flax seed egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons of warm water mixed and set aside for at least 5 minutes)

Half cup soy milk (or any other non-dairy milk of your choice) and half teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, set aside for at least 5 minutes

Quarter cup of butter (like Earth Balance)

1 cup of sugar

2 cups of white whole wheat flour

One and a half teaspoons of baking powder

Half teaspoon of baking soda

Half teaspoon of fine sea salt

Quarter cup of unsweetened applesauce

Zest from 1 orange

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Half teaspoon cardamom (Cardamom is an intense spice.  If you’ve never used it before try a quarter teaspoon.  And if you hate cardamom – gasp! – try cinnamon.)

12 ounces of cranberries (A bag of cranberries you can find at your supermarket)

Equipment

A stand mixer (or electric beaters and large bowl)

A medium sized mixing bowl

A whisk

A zester

A spatula

A 9″ loaf pan

Parchment paper or grease your loaf pan with either baking spray or butter and flour

Place the oven rack to the middle position in the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

Line the loaf pan with parchment paper (or grease it).

In your standing mixer (or with a electric beaters) add the butter and sugar and cream together for about 3 minutes (until well combined).  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk the ingredients till well combined (and there are no visible lumps).  Set aside.

To the standing mixer, add the applesauce, flax seed egg, soy milk with apple cider vinegar, orange zest, vanilla extract, and cardamom.  Mix till well combined.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl, going down the sides, and back up, with your spatula.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Mix till just combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the cranberries and fold into the cake batter with your spatula.

The batter is going to be thick, don’t worry.

Scoop the batter into your prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 50 – 60 minutes.  At the 50 minute marker, check the cake with a cake tester (a toothpick, knife, fork etc).  If it comes out from the middle of the loaf with only a bit of crumb, it’s done.  If the cake tester yielded wet batter still on it, throw the cake back in the oven and bake for another five minutes.  Continue checking every five minutes until it’s done.

Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before serving.

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