Family affairs called me away from the Yukon for the first three weeks of September. While I was gone, I dreamed of berry picking. Plucking the occasional blackberry from Vancouver Island hedges was just not the same as a full-on Yukon low-bush cranberry expedition

I was back in time for a gloriously sunny day of foraging amidst dazzling blue pothole lakes and trees of shimmering orange. A perfect fall day became more perfect when we found berries, in great number, and filled our buckets. On Surprise Road, near Mystery Lake, we sat on folding chairs to drink tea and feast on cranberry scones while juncos fluttered in the trees and the occasional eagle soared overhead. Once home we winnowed in the breeze, picking out pine needles, twigs and scraps of lichen from the shiny red bounty, then tucked bags of cleaned berries away in the freezer. 

Since then I’ve made more cranberry scones, cranberry and whipped cream dessert crepes, and cranberry chutney. The latest treat is an old-fashioned jelly roll, made with cranberry jam, not jelly, and finished with whipped cream, Amaretto and toasted sliced almonds. Ooh la la. 

I hope you had a great berry season, and I wish you many happy berry hours in the kitchen this fall and winter. 

Cranberry Almond Roll

Cranberry Almond Roll

Ingredients

Roll

  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup cake and pastry flour, sifted before measuring
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup simple cranberry jam

Topping

  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • 1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Amaretto
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 10 x 15-inch rimmed baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, making sure the paper overlaps the pan, and butter the parchment paper. 
  2. Beat egg yolks with an electric whisk until thick and creamy. Add sugar gradually while still beating. Add almond extract.
  3. After sifting and measuring the flour, re-sift with baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture slowly to the egg mixture, beating constantly. A wooden spoon is best at this stage. 
  4. In a separate bowl with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold them lightly into the cake batter. 
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula, making sure the batter reaches right into the corners. Bake for 12 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, spread a clean tea towel on the counter and sprinkle it liberally with sifted icing sugar—this is to keep the cake from sticking to the tea towel.
  7. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, loosen the edges of the parchment paper from the pan and reverse the cake out of the pan onto the tea towel. 
  8. While it’s still warm, roll the cake up in the towel, twisting the ends to keep it secure. (For a shorter, thicker cake, roll from the short side; for a longer, thinner one, roll from the long side.) Cool the wrapped cake on a rack.  
  9. To fill, unroll the cooled cake, leaving it on the towel, and spread the jam over top, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin at the edges. Roll the cake up using the towel to nudge it into shape. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap, place it seam-side down on a baking tray and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  10. Whip cream until soft peaks form and slowly add icing sugar and Amaretto, continuing to whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer cake to a serving platter and unwrap. Spread topping evenly over the roll and sprinkle with toasted, sliced almonds. Slice and serve.
cranberries

Simple Cranberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low bush cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Combine berries, sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Once berries start to pop, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thick.
  2. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate in a covered container. Will keep for several weeks in the fridge.