Food Photography, Cranberry Bread and Some Notes on Pan Sizes


One of the things I have not done as often as I’d like is to add photos to my blog entries. Sometimes I just haven’t remembered to take pictures of the dishes before they are eaten, but there is also the problem of taking shots that really show the food in its best light.

An interesting blog reference in the NY Times today might be of help to anybody facing the same challenge of making foods look attractive in photos as they do in real life. This particular link deals with soups, but the site has many other references that could be very helpful over time.

An example of the many ways my photos and blog don’t line up came last December. I actually remembered to take a series of photos of cranberry applesauce bread I wanted to post, but, by the time the bread came out of the oven, the camera battery needed recharging. Then, when I had a charged camera, the bread had been given away or consumed, so there was no final product. Thinking I’d make another batch and capture the results, I delayed posting. Then the holidays intervened and, until now, not even the recipe ended up here. Today’s post is an attempt to make up for that.

I know it is not the season for cranberries yet, but I’m going to include the recipe anyway, to go with the photos. My guess is that it will work just as well with raspberries, so I may be trying that with the next picking of berries. (Last night, I took some young friends with me to the front of the patch and we came home with over a quart of berries just for snacking.)

Cranberry Applesauce Bread

2 c fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 T sugar (for cranberries)
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 c applesauce
1 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If you are using glass loaf pans, heat to only 325 degrees.)
1. Toss the cranberries with a tablespoon of sugar and set aside.
2. Cream the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla well.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add this mixture and the applesauce alternately to the creamed mixture and beat well.
4. Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.
5. Oil or spray with non-stick coating a large loaf pan or a medium pan and three “miniature” loaf pans. (See the math below) Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
6. Bake large loaf for 50 minutes, smaller pans from 20 to 35 minutes. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Turn the baked loaves on to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

The Mathematics of Pan Sizes

Loaf pans are probably the least uniform of all baking pans. “Large” or standard loaf pans can range from 7 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches all the way to 9 inches by 5 inches. “Medium” pans have an even larger range, and the “miniature’ pans as shown in the photo above may be as small as 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches. In general, a recipe like this, which makes at least 4 cups of batter, will fill a “large” loaf pan to about 2/3 full, resulting in a very high loaf. You could use a “large” pan and save out enough batter for a couple of miniatures (great gifts!) and still have a nice loaf.

So how do you decide what pans to use? Sometimes you may need to do a little trial and error with your own pans. If a recipe fills your pan between half and two thirds full, you will be fine. If it approaches three quarters full, you should probably put some of the batter in some smaller pans–or even muffin pans; muffin batters and quick bread batters are often identical.

The key thing to remember is that the baking temperature will remain the same (reducing the oven heat about 25 degrees for glass pans that tend to brown more quickly) but the baking time will change.

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