Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Recipe: Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

With Thanksgiving just a few days off, here's a recipe inspired by a 2005 post for Orange Cranberry Bread from veteran food blogger Nicole Weston, whose class at New School of Cooking encouraged me to keep blogging, even when readers haven't always shown up. I've made a few changes to the recipe, adding walnuts and sherry and switching some of the white flour for wheat. I think Nicole's idea of mixing fresh and dried cranberries makes all the difference, and I might even add more of the dried! The orange zest and fresh orange juice give it a distinct citrus flavor, an excellent complement to other Thanksgiving foods. A loaf of this bread is certain to make an appearance at our Thanksgiving table on Thursday, possibly a variation on the recipe below, as I never like to make anything exactly the same twice!

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

(Adapted from Baking Bites recipe)

About 12 generous servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups whole fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, unthawed)
1/4 cup dried cranberries 
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, toasted, plus more for garnish

Mixing cranberries and nuts into the batter


1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan." 

2. Measure white and whole wheat flour, and put into a large bowl, along with sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together orange juice, zest, sherry, oil and the egg. Mix the two together until combined, but be careful not to over-mix.

3. Gently fold in fresh and dried cranberries and toasted, chopped nuts. Pour into prepared pan and place a few untoasted walnuts on top for decoration.

4. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top should be a golden brown, but neither pale nor dark. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan before carefully inverting the bread onto a wire rack. If you can stand it, allow the bread to cool completely before slicing. (Unfortunately, I seldom follow my own advice!)

*Note on baking pans: This is such a decorative loaf that you might want to make it for holiday gifts. If you want to divide the batter into smaller loaf pans, you can. I found the recipe filled one 8x4 1/2-inch pan and a second 5 1/2 x3 1/4-inch pan). By my calculations, it should be enough to fill three of the 5 1/2x3 1/4-inch pans if you prefer to make several small loaves.

Nutritional Info (each 3/4-inch slice)

Calories: 220
Fat: 6 grams
Carbs: 39 grams
Fiber: 1.5 grams
Protein 3 grams
Weight Watchers points: 6


1. Although the bread is great as it is, I thought I might add more spice to it next time--perhaps a half teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and ginger.

2. Speaking of ginger, in memory of my mother, whose pound cake with candied ginger was a staple at our house, I may add a bit of chopped candied ginger, along with the dried and fresh cranberries. 

3. If you want the bread a little less tart, reduce the fresh cranberries to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. Because most dried cranberries are slightly sweetened, they do balance the acidity of the fresh berries.

4. To make the bread even sweeter, sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top, along with chopped nuts.

5. You can ramp the sweetness up even further with a streusel. Mix 1 tablespoon of flour, 3 to 5 tablespoons of brown or white sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Blend together the topping until crumbly with your fingers or a fork and sprinkle over the top of the loaf. Bake as directed. 

Disappearing fast!

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