Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread

When you live on Cape Cod, in addition to driving by beautiful beaches, you get to drive by cranberry bogs and watch trucks loaded with harvested cranberries rumble by.  Cape Cod and cranberries are synonymous.

Cranberries are particularly ubiquitous this time of year with displays of the bouncing, bright red berries front and center in the produce section of all the local supermarkets.  It makes my shopping a lot easier as I don’t have to search out the treasure bags of berries I need for my holiday baking as was sometimes the case when I lived in Chicago.

Dessert breads are always high on my holiday baking list—date nut bread is a must along with pumpkin bread.  Cranberry-orange bread, however, just screams Thanksgiving to me, and the first bag of cranberries I get my hands on finds its way into a loaf.

I don’t know who first thought up the pairing of cranberries and orange, but it is a flavor match made in heaven.  The orange rind and cranberries blend to give this delicious dessert bread a bright fresh taste with every bite.

One year ago:  Cranberry Margaritas

Two years ago:  Pecan Pie Bars

Three years ago:  Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbl. grated orange zest
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tbl. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbl. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (see my notes below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375o F.  Note that you will be decreasing the temperature to 350o F after the first 20 minutes of baking.  

Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan or use non-stick baking spray which contains flour.

In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter and egg.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened.  Gently stir in cranberries and nuts.  Do not overmix.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 20 minutes; then reduce heat to 350o F.  Continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes longer.  Do a toothpick test—you want to see a tender crumb clinging to the toothpick.  If your toothpick is bone dry, then your cake will be drier than it should be.  Mine was done to perfection at 40 minutes (after heat was lowered to 350).  It was moist with a tender crumb.

Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving.

Fran’s Notes

Cranberries can be definitely challenging to chop because they roll so easily.  I swear they must be part Mexican jumping bean because they just roll and bounce all over the place whenever you try to cut them.  I have never used a food processor to chop them but have always cut them by hand to control the size of the pieces I wanted.  I recently read a tip, however, that I tried out this time, and it worked out very well.  The tip was to put the cranberries in the groove of a meat cutting board and then slice through them.  It worked like a charm.  I didn’t have a single cranberry fly off the board onto the floor!

If you’re using frozen cranberries, be sure to chop them while they’re still frozen.

I’m a big fan of nuts,–but, if you’re not, just leave them out.

Source:   Slightly adapted recipe from Once Upon a Chef

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