Until today, I was unaware that cranberries do in fact, grow in bogs. This wasn’t the pretty little picture that I had painted in my wild imagination, where cranberries grow on bushes, constantly surrounded by the sound and presence of wildlife, of little birds chirping. So, after cooking up a crazy cranberry feast, I decided to find out where the little guys actually grow up to become the lovely little berry that they are.
According to Oracle – ThinkQuest, cranberries are grown in wet, marshy bogs. Cranberries grow to their utmost best where ‘there is a cool growing season and no extreme cold.’ The marshy bogs have peat at the bottom, planting is done in April and by October, the plants sprout and grow red berries, which signals that it is harvest time. When the cranberries have been harvested, any ‘bruised and banged up ones become jelly or juice. The good ones are sold as whole berries.’
Hmmm….I bet you didn’t think that the cranberry juice you might be drinking right now is made from battered cranberries. I certainly didn’t anyway. I guess it would be wasteful to throw those unfortunate little guys out. But boy do they taste good as juice.
Anyway, this blog post is all about cranberries. And baking. And cranberries and baking. We’ve got cranberry muffins here, which are just too good during this cold, harsh winter. We’ve got cranberry cream cheese frosting. As if it couldn’t get any better, this cranberry cream cheese frosting is made with homemade cranberry sauce, none of that nonsense from a jar.
It’s the little things in life. 🙂
Let’s tackle the cranberry sauce first folks:
- 30g cranberries, washed
- 25g sugar
- 25 ml water
- Wash the cranberries and place in a bowl.
- Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan, bringing to a boil, stirring in order to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the cranberries, returning to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until the cranberries burst.
- Remove from the heat, mashing with a fork if necessary.
- Leave to cool and the place in the fridge until you are ready to start making the frosting. This will thicken the sauce.
Now, onto cupcake heaven:
- 56g soya butter, at room temperature
- 250g plain flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 100g cranberries, wash and roughly chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 225g sugar and a separate 45g
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- A few shakes of nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a muffin tray with pretty little paper cases.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Toss the cranberries in a separate bowl with a little sugar, and then with a small bit of the flour mixture, until lightly coated.
- In another bowl, beat the butter along with the 225g sugar, with an electric beater, until it is light and fluffy. This should take around 2-3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture, with the mixer on a low speed, beating until it is just combined. Ensure that you do not overmix. Fold in the cranberries. Divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases.
- In a small bowl, the remaining sugar and a few shakes of nutmeg. How much nutmeg you use really depends on your own personal taste.
- Sprinkle the mixture on top of the muffin batter.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing from pan.
- Once the muffins have been removed, leave to fully cool on a wire rack.
And onto the dreamy frosting…..
- 200g cream cheese, softened
- 50g soy butter, softened
- The ½ cup of cranberry sauce which we whipped up earlier on
- 100g icing sugar
- Beat the cream cheese on high for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the butter and beat on high until well combined.
- Add the cranberry sauce and continue mixing until well combined.
- Turning off the mixer, add the icing sugar.
- Mix the ingredients on a low speed, until the icing sugar has been incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
Frost the scrumptious cranberry cupcakes with the cranberry cream cheese frosting, and have yourself a merry little Christmas. 🙂