It's not Fall until I throw on a pair of waders in the middle of Rockefeller Plaza, step into the knee-high Ocean Spray cranberry bog, pull up a chair at the beautifully decorated family style table and indulge in my first Thanksgiving meal of the season. What I loved about this year's event is that it really focused on making sure that first-time hosts had a bunch of useful tips up their sleeve. Being that I've hosted both Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving meals in the past, the tip that really stuck with me and that has worked incredibly well in my experience is to get as much done before the big day.
One of Ocean Spray's grandmas, aka. "CranMas"—brilliant, I know—Sue Gilmore, a fifth-generation cranberry farmer herself, told me all about how she sets her table a week in advance turning cups upside down so they stay clean. She doesn't do this solely to get the decorating out of the way, no, she does it so she can note anything that's missing from her perfect tablescape and has ample time to go out hunting for it.
In the same vein, CranMa Mary Ann Lee told me all about her Sweet Potato Soufflé and how she is able to prep it a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, when she takes her turkey out of the oven to rest for thirty minutes before carving into it, she pops her soufflé in the oven to finish it off in time for her family's feast.
Now, I'm no CranMa, but I sure love and live by their advice which is why I created this Cranberry Bread recipe. Make it a day or two before Thanksgiving and have another awesome treat on the table. Because on Thanksgiving, empty space is a waste (especially in your belly).
1. TO PREP YOUR CRANBERRIES. preheat your oven to 350°.
Pour half of your cranberries into your blender.
Add in your 1/4 cup of water and orange zest.
Blend until you have a dark burgundy color—about 3 minutes.
2. TO MAKE YOUR CRANBERRY BREAD. combine your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your stand mixer.
Add in your egg, milk, melted butter, and blended cranberry mix.
On the lowest speed, add in your remaining whole cranberries and allow to mix just until they are evenly incorporated.
Spray your bread pan with your butter cooking spray.
Pour your batter into your bread pan.
Bake for 1 hour and then test to see if it's done by dipping a toothpick into its center. If it comes out batter free (some crumbs are ok) it's ready!
Transfer your bread to your cooling rack.
Let cool for 30 minutes.