Seasons for cooking keep turning in pages of Joy

Oregon cranberries always were planned for my column that has run monthly in the HomeLife magazine for just shy of two years. Although it may still seem a tad early, if I didn’t sing cranberries’ praises in the November issue, I would have missed the critical window before Thanksgiving.

It’s fortunate I didn’t wait because the current issue is the last of HomeLife, barring unforeseen developments. News and features about the home and garden still will run in the Sunday newspaper’s HomeLife section, but readers no longer will receive the monthly supplement that the Mail Tribune produced for more than a decade.

Season to Taste, however, will continue as a monthly feature in the newspaper’s Joy magazine. The focus, seasonal eating, will remain the same, only now I won’t feel so compelled to offer advice on gardening, about which I admittedly am not an expert.

But first, a little housekeeping: The recipe that ran with the cranberry column failed to instruct cooks when to add liquid pectin listed among its ingredients. I have corrected that error, which apparently originated with our service for food features. A close approximation of the recipe from another online source confirmed the instruction for everyone out there who isn’t a seasoned candy maker.

The recipe also was corrected in our online Recipe Box, which is closing in on 3,500 entries, most vetted by newspaper test kitchens and various organizations that represent American foodstuffs. Help us hit the milestone by sharing your family’s favorites.

More holiday-themed foods soon will be added, starting with Halloween next week. In addition to some slightly creepy, kid-friendly fare, bonus recipes for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s can be found on our Holiday 101 page and in the Recipe Box. The page may look a little bare now, but it will host a video that demonstrates construction of a gingerbread house, new food stories, photos, Web links and other resources for cooks.

In the meantime, here’s another recipe that, along with Cranberry-Pear Fruit Jellies, celebrates the Rogue Valley’s high season for its signature fruit. This one, courtesy of The Associated Press and using dried cranberries, would carry over into Thanksgiving, Christmas and beyond.

AP photo

Cranberry-Pear Cake

For the cake:

1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar

1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1⁄2 teaspoon dry ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3 pears (or one 28-ounce can pear halves, drained), finely chopped (2 cups total)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped dried cranberries

For the frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

Zest of 1 orange

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1⁄2 teaspoon dry ginger

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese

Strips of orange zest, for garnish (optional)

Dried cranberries, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat 2 (9-inch), round cake pans with baking spray. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper.

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the granulated sugar, butter, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla until creamy smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping sides of bowl between additions.

Add the pears and flour and mix until combined. Stir in the cranberries. Divide batter between 2 prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted at center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

When cake is completely cooled, make frosting. In bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, orange zest, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon until creamy smooth. Add the cream cheese and mix until completely incorporated.

To assemble cake, place 1 cake on a serving plate, spread about 3⁄4 cup frosting evenly over the top of it. Place second cake over it. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake, swirling frosting. Decorate with strips of orange zest and dried cranberries, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 16 servings.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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