Forget chestnuts roasting on an open fire and other Bing Crosby-era cliches. The smell of cranberry kuchen cooking is enough to put food writer Sarah Wadsworth in a festive mood.

“As far back as I can remember, we always had this for Christmas breakfast, and the smell of the buttery topping always reminds me of the holidays,” she says.

The original recipe came from her mother, but Wadsworth has since made changes to make it more food-allergy friendly. “I actually think I’ve improved it. Now, it’s nice and light.”

She and husband Zeph moved here in 2010 from the central coast of California.

She made the kuchen for Floyd’s Cafe in Wellington. Here’s her recipe…

Sarah’s Cranberry Kuchen:

If you’re looking for something to eat while you open presents, Wadsworth says this cake is best made the day before you eat it, making breakfast stress-free on Christmas morning.

2 cups flour (for a gluten-free version, use 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup sorghum flour and 1/2 cup tapioca starch)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk or milk substitute (almond, rice, or soy milk)

1/2 cup plain yoghurt or buttermilk

2 Tbsp canola or other oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp orange zest

4 cups cranberries (frozen)

For the streusel topping:

1 1/2 cups flour (see gluten-free suggestion above)

1 cup sugar

6 Tbsp butter

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 13cm x 9cm baking dish (preferably Pyrex or ceramic).

Sift or whisk the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, yoghurt or buttermilk, canola oil, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest until thoroughly mixed and the sugar is beginning to dissolve.

Fold in the dry ingredients and gently stir until just incorporated. Pour into the prepared dish and roll the pan from side to side so the batter evenly coats the bottom of the dish.

In a food processor, finely chop the cranberries and evenly place over the batter.

Clean the processor and add all the streusel ingredients and process until the butter is in fine pieces (it should look like coarse sand). Pour over the cranberries and spread evenly. Bake for one hour, or until the middle of the cake is firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool.

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