Recipe: Cranberry Lemon Cake (er, Bread?)

Photo from Sassyradish's Flickr page.

Nothing guilt-trips me quite like wasted food, and the amount of ingredients I had leftover from Thanksgiving cooking had been weighing on my shoulders for the last two weeks.

I'd open the fridge: "There's more buttermilk? There's another bag of cranberries? What am I going to do?"

Then I had an idea: lemon cranberry buttermilk bread. Surely there is such a thing.

I made two versions of this quick bread. It's really cake, but who can resist calling it bread, which is so much more acceptable at breakfast than cake? The recipe that follows is clearly the superior one.

The alternate version used 6 tablespoons of sour cream in place of the 3 tablespoons of butter and was baked in a square baking dish instead of a loaf pan; I was hoping to maximize the surface area, which was my favorite part the first time around, but the flat expanse of 8"x8" cake paled in comparison to the tall, quaggy bread, spoonable in the middle.

Cranberry Lemon Cake
Yields 1 loaf, which can be cut into 8 generously sized slices
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon lemon extract (or fresh lemon juice, though I find extract better for this recipe)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about half a lemon's worth)
2 cups plus 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups fresh whole cranberries
Preheat oven to 375 F and set rack in center.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Continue beating while adding 1 cup of sugar, then the eggs, buttermilk, and lemon extract, until thoroughly combined. Add in the zest and stir with a wood spoon to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together 2 cups of flour with the salt and baking powder. In two batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with the wood spoon until just combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy.

Measure out the cranberries and toss them with about 1/4 or less of flour, which will keep the cranberries from falling to the bottom of the cake.

Add the cranberries to the batter, folding them in and keeping the batter a little lumpy.

Grease a loaf pan with butter or vegetable shortening, and either dust it lightly with flour or sugar. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth it flat with a rubber spatula or a metal spoon. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 375F. If the top has begun to brown, turn the temperature down to 350F and continue baking another 10 to 12 minutes.

I like the cake to be gooey and undercooked in the center, and baking it in this fashion will allow that to happen while the edges will still turn out about as dry as a typical quick bread, such as banana bread or pumpkin bread.

Serve warm.