Dec 29, 2008

Meyer Lemon Cranberry Bread

The Meyer Lemons have appeared again and I couldn't take it anymore. I had to bake something with them. This cranberry lemon loaf was just the thing. The tartness of the dried cranberries plays off the sweetness of the Meyer Lemons. This is a beautiful treat for the holidays either for breakfast or with a cup of tea. The cranberries make a festive confetti throughout the batter. And the glaze adds an extra little kick of that Meyer Lemon flavor I love so much.

You can make these as muffins or a loaf. I'm including directions for both. Thought I noted that the muffins didn't brown as beautifully on top as the loaf. They were a bit pale on top, but still very tasty.

I started with Rebecca Rather's Lemon Cranberry Loaf Cake recipe from The Pastry Queen cookbook. She uses regular lemons, fresh cranberries and milk in her batter. I switched to Meyer Lemons, dried cranberries and buttermilk. I also reduced the sugar since Meyer Lemons are so much sweeter than regular lemons. Plan ahead, you'll need to take your butter out ahead of time to bring it to room temp.

Meyer Lemon Cranberry Bread/Muffins

1 cup dried cranberries
1 2/3 cups flour (all-purpose)
1 tablespoon flour (for cranberries)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon organic Meyer Lemon zest (1-2 Meyer Lemons)

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Meyer Lemon juice (from 2 Meyer Lemons)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. (Or if you're making muffins, line a cupcake pan with 12 cups with cupcake papers.)

In a small bowl, stir the dried cranberries with 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside. (This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the dough.)

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for one minute until fluffy.

Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for another minute.

Add half the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Mix together on low until just combined.

Add half the buttermilk. Mix on low until just combined.

Add the remaining flour. Mix again until just combined.

Add the remaining buttermilk and mix until combined.

With your fingers, sprinkle the zest over the top of the batter to distribute it evenly. Add the dried cranberries and fold together until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan (or muffin cups) and bake for one hour (or 20-25 minutes for muffins). Test for doneness with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it's ready to come out of the oven.

Make the glaze:
Combine the juice and sugar in a bowl and stir in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Alternatively, microwave for 30 seconds, then stir, then another 30 seconds. Stir again until sugar is dissolved.

Let loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from pan. (Remove muffins from cupcake pan immediately and let cool on a cooling rack.)

With a toothpick, pierce the top of the loaf (or muffins) gently. Using a pastry brush, brush the top with the glaze. It will penetrate into the holes providing little bursts of sunshiny Meyer Lemon flavor.

Makes one loaf or 12 muffins.

Adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather.

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