Cranberry season is upon us

I have a fairly strict philosophy to not change Thanksgiving recipes. Not everyone feels this way, but those who do take comfort in knowing Thanksgiving Day will feature the same recipes they have been enjoying for most of their lives.

Cranberry sauce or relish falls into this category. Most of us were introduced to cranberries by way of relish served for Thanksgiving dinner.

Made fresh by simmering with sugar and a little orange zest or scooped out of a can, most people eat their cranberry relish with turkey and do not give these little berries a second thought.

They deserve it, though.

The history of the 'craneberry'

Did you know cranberries are one of only three true-native North American fruits that grow wild and that are commercially grown (the other two are blueberries and concord grapes)?

They were named as a shortened version of the word "craneberry," which came from the plant's light-pink flowers that dip down and resemble the head of a crane. They also are known as "bounceberries" as the ripe berries literally bounce when dropped on the ground.

These shiny, crimson berries are grown on vines in huge, sandy, marshland bogs. The United States leads the world, with 88 percent of the world's production. Wisconsin produces half of the U.S. annual crop, with Massachusetts a close second, producing one-third. Washington, Oregon and New Jersey comprise the rest of the U.S. production.

Cranberries are harvested between the first week of September and the end of October, with their peak market being October through December.

They are usually packaged fresh in 12-ounce bags, and they can be stored this way, if unopened or tightly sealed, for up to two months in the refrigerator or frozen for nine months to a year.

A holiday treat

Rather than mess with a good thing, here is a recipe that gives a new look to a very traditional ingredient.

Your family or guests will appreciate Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping for breakfast over a holiday weekend. Once in the oven and baking, the wafting smell of orange, cranberries and sugar will rouse even the most sleepy teenager or guest out of bed.

Conveniently, all the ingredients are basic ones usually found in your pantry and refrigerator, making the cake conducive to impromptu baking.

Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

(makes one 9-inch, round or square cake, or eight slices)

Orange juice and fresh cranberries are an irresistible combination in this breakfast cake.

It's best made the morning you will eat it, but you can make it the day ahead. To serve the next day, cover with foil and heat at 275 degrees F. until warm, about 15 minutes.


1/4 cup (1/2 cube) butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup orange juice

1 cup halved cranberries

Streusel topping:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup chopped walnut or pecans

3 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into several pieces

Beat butter and sugar until smooth; add egg and beat until well-blended.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternatively with orange juice, stirring until combined. Stir in cranberries.

Transfer to 9-inch, round or square pan that has been sprayed with vegetable spray.

Stir together flour, sugars and pecans; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees F. until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow cooling 20 to 25 minutes; cut into 8 pieces.

Linda Burner Augustine is a freelance cooking teacher, food writer and consultant who lives in Madison Park. She can be reached at mptimes@nwlink. com.[[In-content Ad]]