Holiday Cranberry + Date Cake //

My hands are here for more than working.
They are here for creating.
For touching.
For holding.
For playing.
For healing.
Perhaps, just for tonight, they are here to be gentle aids in the cultivation of something truly simple and even more truly magnificent.

It takes a very certain kind of mood for me to sit down and write, and it’s quite similar to the particular place my mind has to be in order to play and experiment with a brand new recipe. Sometimes while creating a recipe out of thin air, it comes from this odd combination of adventure, nostalgia and deja vu. More than it being a record of ingredients and instructions, it feels like a journey into the past, present and future all at once. Does that make sense? Well, I’d like for you to join me on this voyage where berries become sacred childhood memories, or maybe the other way around.

As I woke this morning with plenty on my to-do list, the perfect fall weather was practically calling out for me to set work aside and bake a cake. The red cranberries reminded me of this holiday “Festival of Lights” I went to with my biological father when must have been 3 or 4 years old. I don’t remember much aside from being close to his side and seeing these large, perfectly round, Christmas-red ornaments hanging from the trees. Some of the ornaments were even playing hide & seek between the branches and twigs. This was a time of my life that did not last long, and moments like that would never be recreated quite the same. But it’s amazing how our minds can freeze a seemingly simple act and allow it to evolve into so much more over the course of a lifetime.

Our memories are powerful. The visuals that stick into our minds take on new forms, turning a Christmas walk into a holiday cake. And just like that time of my childhood, the cake is bittersweet. It is beautiful. It is light. Simple. But the cranberries have bite to them — with each little pop of flavor, I am reminded of the stronger memories. The bitter. The powerful. And how quickly life can change.

Yes, this simple cake is packed full of nostalgia for me. And I am curious to find where the path of whisking and baking takes your heart this week.

This lovely little holiday cake is perfect for the Thanksgiving table, and being refined sugar-free also allows it to make a nice addition to a brunch. If you are not gluten-free, sub the 1+1 flour for regular unbleached flour and it should work just the same. If you are not vegan, use two eggs instead of the flax eggs.

What you need:
1 ½ cups dates, pitted,
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ⅓ cup water cold
½ cup softened coconut oil (room temp)
⅓ cup coconut sugar
2 flax eggs (2 tbs. ground flax seeds + 6 tbs. water & let sit 10 minutes) or two regular eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cup gluten-free 1+1 flour, or unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup cranberries
1 ¾ tablespoon baking powder

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a round 8 or 9 inch pan with a touch of coconut oil.
  2. Place dates in a pan with water and bring to a boil. Stir them consistently and simmer on low for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in baking soda and remove from heat.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat your coconut sugar and coconut oil until creamy (add a touch more coconut oil if too clumpy/sandy) and then add your eggs. Add vanilla, flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Add the date mix and cranberries, then and baking powder until your batter is light and fluffy. Don’t over-mix as you want to keep that fluffiness intact.
  5. Pour into your pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.
  6. Serve with coffee, ice cream, coconut whipped cream, or just devour all on its own.I suggest lighting a candle, taking a bite, and writing down the first memory that comes to your mind. I’d love to hear about it.

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