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Cranberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake
By Charlie Burke

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Cranberries, still available in local markets, make great chutneys and sauces,
and their tart flavor is a great addition to cookies and other deserts, so it is
unfortunate that many cooks use them only during the holidays. Southeastern
Massachusetts is known for its crimson cranberry bogs, and, although they are
grown elsewhere, folks from New England claim them as their own. In Maine,
sand pits are now being reclaimed by cranberry growers.

This coffee cake has been a favorite of ours for years, and Joanne remembers
baking it for her colleagues in the hospital fifteen or twenty years ago. The tart
cranberries are a good foil for the richness of the cake and its sweet highlights
from the pecans and brown sugar mixture, which adds crunch and texture
through the cake and doubles as the crust. It is easily made and freezes well,
making it practical as well as delicious.

2 cups all purpose flour
Scant ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 large eggs
8 ounces sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cranberries, chopped coarsely
Zest and juice from 1 orange, preferably organic (wash with soap and rinse
thoroughly if not organic)
1 ¼ cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or to taste (use less if using Saigon cinnamon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10 inch tube pan with butter or cooking
spray.

Mix the first 5 dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the
butter and sugar with an electric mixer until it is thoroughly mixed and light in
texture. Add the eggs, sour cream and vanilla and mix until blended. Mix in
orange zest and juice.

Beat in the flour slowly, and then mix the cranberries into the flour mixture by
hand.

Mix the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon together.

Add the cake batter to the pan, distributing half the pecan mixture into the batter
as the pan fills. Top the cake with the remaining mixture.

Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for approximately 45 minutes. A
toothpick or cake tester will be dry when the cake is done. Cool the cake before
removing it from the pan.

The mix of cranberries and orange is reminiscent of the cranberry sauce we make
during the holidays, but this cake certainly belongs on the table throughout the
year, and fresh blueberries or raspberries would make appropriate seasonal
substitutions in warmer months.

Consider using our native New England cranberries beyond the holidays. They
are appropriate for savory main course sauces whenever acidity is appropriate,
and they can be substituted for other fruit or even chocolate chips in desert
recipes.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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