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Well, well, well.  Who knew that cranberry bread could be so persnickety.  I mean, growing up I loved Thanksgiving, and it’s still my favorite holiday.  The simplicity, inclusiveness, and meaning behind the holiday is what got me.  It’s not about religion (which excludes people) or about gifts (which becomes greedy and wasteful) or focused on a fictitious character (I have nothing against the Easter Bunny!).  It’s just about celebrating togetherness.

Our Thanksgivings were always spent at home, often with extended family and friends, cooking, baking, and eating our homemade feast together.  We’d spend most of the day in the kitchen, with a sprinkling of new recipes, the untouchable recipes (the stuffing was a non-negotiable), and the recipes that we had to make, but we’d try to perfect with little twists and tweaks.  These tweaked recipes couldn’t be too fancy, mind you.  Pimped out recipes did not meet our tradition and comfort quota.  We have standards, people.

The Thanksgiving Goods 2011

Other traditions came and went throughout the years, such as running in the Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot 5K (brrr…that was a cold one in MN!), and our annual Thanksgiving Day dessert contest between me and my sisters.  Umm…yeah…I think that I may have won one of these contests, but my selective memory has blocked out the cold, hard facts.  Please don’t judge, unless your judging my resilience.

The tradition that never faded and one that comes to mind first when thinking about Thanksgiving  (beyond the day of cooking and eating) is Cranberry Thanksgiving.  Each year, my Mom would read the book to us as the holiday approached and we’d bake cranberry bread from the book’s recipe.  Mmmm…I can smell it baking now…

Yep, I’m a traditionalist.  So, you better bet that as Thanksgiving is approaching and I’m testing recipes for Flour + Co, cranberry bread made the list.  You may wonder why I don’t just use the book’s recipe.  It’s a simple and good quick bread recipe.  I even recommend trying it at home.  But, for the bakery, I think that it can be better.  Cranberry bread is often a bit dry, so my plan is to moisten it up and make it slightly more interesting without, of course, departing too far from the tried and true.

Easier said than done, apparently.  I’m heading on to try number 6 and it’s still not right.  It has to be super moist as mentioned, but it also has to be perfectly sweet because of the tartness of cranberries.  Nuts really help make it more interesting, so I’m playing with some different nuts, some different flour combos, and I’m also trying different flavor accents from the traditional orange to ginger.  These are barely there accents, but they pump up the finished flavor profile.

And so my tale of perfecting the Cranberry Bread recipe continues.  You will be the first to know when I’ve got it down, and you will be able to try it for yourself come next Thanksgiving at Flour + Co!  In the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and a meal shared together!

Oh, and, I’d love to hear that special tradition or dish that makes your Thanksgiving tick tock, so please share!

[Read more about the opening of my bakery in San Francisco here]