If you’re a traditional foods cook, you’re probably no stranger to the concept of tweaking a recipe and taking it back in time. We replace modern processed ingredients with real food and maybe even add an extra prep step, such as soaking, sprouting, or souring. It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen! I love taking family favorites and making them “new” using “old” methods.
During the recent holiday season, my daughter and I decided to do just that with two recipes that we’d read about but never actually tried. It all started with a children’s book titled Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin. Published in 1971, it is about a young girl named Maggie who lives with her grandmother in the quaint coastal town of Cranberryport. The story has captivated my imagination ever since my mom used to read it to me and my siblings when we were young.
Now I have our family’s copy of the well-worn volume, which I read to my own children every fall. As we revisited the tale involving the theft of Maggie’s grandmother’s very famous — and extremely secret — recipe for cranberry bread, we knew we had to make it.
(Especially because we, as readers of the book, had access to the secret recipe on the back cover.)
Except for the easily replaced “all-purpose flour” and “margarine”, the original ingredients weren’t too far off the traditional mark. Following the recipe shared below, we made our own version of Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread and served it for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning with homemade turkey sausage and fresh-pressed juice — a treat we hope to repeat.
Years after my siblings and I grew up reading Cranberry Thanksgiving, one of my sisters discovered that the book had actually been the first in a series written and illustrated by the Devlins. She began collecting them to read to her children, starting with Cranberry Christmas, published in 1984. (By then, Cranberry Mystery and Cranberry Halloween had also been released in 1978 and 1982, respectively.)
Just like the first book, each of the others in the series includes a recipe. And since we’d already had success with one recipe, we decided to try another, this time making Maggie’s Favorite Cranberry Cookies (also below) from Cranberry Christmas. We sampled some ourselves and considered them delicious enough to give some away as gifts.
Although we don’t currently own any of the other books, we’re kind of on a roll and just might have to get them so we can keep baking our way through Cranberry Valentine, Cranberry Easter, Cranberry Birthday, Cranberry Summer, and Cranberry Autumn in the coming year. Feel free to join us!
Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread
- 2 cups sprouted spelt flour (how to make it)
- 3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil (plus more for greasing pan)
- 1 pastured egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon orange peel, grated
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1-1/2 cups raisins
- 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
Makes 1 loaf. Adapted from Cranberry Thanksgiving, by Wende and Harry Devlin.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift spelt flour, evaporated cane juice, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter or coconut oil until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once. Stir until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in raisins and cranberries. Spoon into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
Maggie’s Favorite Cranberry Cookies
- 3 cups sprouted spelt flour (how to make it)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1/2 cup sucanat or Rapadura
- 1 pastured egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
- 1 cup crispy walnuts, chopped (optional)
Makes approximately 8 dozen cookies. Adapted from Cranberry Christmas, by Wende and Harry Devlin.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Measure spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir with a fork to mix. Cream butter and sweeteners in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg, milk, and lemon juice. Stir in flour mixture a little at a time, until well blended. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Drop dough by the teaspoonful about 1 inch apart onto greased cookie sheets. Press lightly on top to flatten cookies. Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm and golden. Remove to wire racks to cool.
What dishes have you recreated after reading about them in a book? Please share!
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