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How to add organic to your holiday baking

Caroline Del Col

The holiday season is here and with it…. baking! When it comes to your making your favorite recipes, there’s a big difference in ingredients. This month, Merryfield Co-Founder and Head of Quality Standards and Safety Joe Dickson chatted with Dr. Amber Sciligo of The OrganicCenter about adding organic to your holiday baking. Missed it? You can still watch a recap of the video ... and get some tips and recipes, too!


The USDA Organic seal ensures the grains in your flour are grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate. It also means they’re unbromated and unbleached. Bleached flour uses harsh chemicals like chlorine gas to soften flour (but it’s an unnecessary step) while bromated flours are treated with potassium bromate, which has been linked to cancer.


Whether light brown, dark brown or good old granulated, organic sugar is grown without the use of toxic and persistent herbicides, or pesticides. It also comes from sugar cane sugar rather than sugar beets, which is one of the most common genetically modified crops.


USDA Organic dairy products are made with milk from cows only fed organic feed (which is always non-GMO and grown without persistent pesticides) and aren’t given antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones.


The USDA Organic seal means raised that the hens who laid the eggs are raised on organic farms, only fed organic feed (non-GMO and grown without toxic or persistent pesticides) and not given antibiotics or growth hormones. 

Joe Dickson shares this favorite organic holiday baking recipe for Organic Cranberry Ginger Upside-Down Cake. Here's how to make it:



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt ¼ cup of the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Add brown sugar, and continue cooking over medium, whisking constantly, until sugar melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Toss cranberries, orange zest and juice, grated ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon of the sal in a medium bowl until fully coated. Spread cranberry mixture, including juices, evenly over brown sugar mixture in warm skillet.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.
  4. Beat raw sugar and remaining 1/2 cup butter with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat on medium-low speed until fully combined, about 1 minute. With mixer still running, beat in sour cream and vanilla until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
  6. Add milk and flour mixture alternately in 3 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until batter is fully combined and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes.
  7. Spoon batter evenly over cranberry mixture in skillet, and spread evenly.
  8. Bake cake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and top of cake is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
  9. Cool cake in skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a serving platter over top of warm cake, and carefully flip the skillet over, inverting cake onto platter. Dust cake with powdered sugar, and serve warm.

Amber Sciligo shares her favorite organic holiday baking recipe for Butternut Squash Muffins. Here's how to make a batch:


  • 1 pound organic butternut uncooked squash with skin on, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ¼ cups organic brown sugar (do not firmly pack)
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • ¾ cups organic, light cooking oil (e.g. rice bran, grape seed or olive oil)
  • 2 ½ cups organic all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. organic ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • Cooking spray for muffin tin OR cupcake wrappers


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F degrees. Butter or spray the sides of the muffin tin with cooking oil. Alternatively, you can line your muffin tin with cupcake wrappers.
  2. Spread walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove when walnuts begin to turn color or start to smell toasted.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.
  4. Puree the squash in a food processor that holds at least 1.5 quarts until finely chopped. To the bowl of the food processor, add the brown sugar, eggs and olive oil, and puree until smooth.
  5. Add the toasted walnuts and the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined. Scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary.
  6. Spoon mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Happy baking and happy holidays from Merryfield!

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