Although I love a Christmassy dessert as much as the next sugar addict, after a while I just want a slice of something simple and a cup of tea. This buttermilk loaf is everything you need on those in-between days – when you are feeling festive but not quite ready to commit to a tub of brandy butter.
It comes together in no time at all, with the buttermilk giving it a gorgeous velvety texture, laced with plump cranberries and – the best bit – the crunchy, moreish sugar crust.
dried cranberries 125g
oranges juice and finely grated zest of 2
unsalted butter 100g, melted
caster sugar 235g
egg 1 large
self-raising flour 250g
baking powder 1 tsp
fine sea salt ¾ tsp
Preheat your oven to 170C fan/gas mark 5. Place the cranberries and 125ml of orange juice in a small pan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Let it bubble away for 4 minutes, until almost all the juice has been absorbed. Leave to one side. Brush the entire inside of a 1kg loaf tin with a little of the melted butter, then spoon in 25g of the caster sugar. Tilt the tin so that the sugar lines the insides.
In a large mixing bowl cream together the remaining butter and 200g of the caster sugar. Beat in the egg, then mix in the buttermilk and orange zest. Sift and fold in the self-raising flour, baking powder and fine sea salt. Finish by stirring through the plump cranberries and spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Evenly sprinkle over the last 10g of caster sugar and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
Georgina Hayden is a cook and author of Nistisima (Bloomsbury, £26)