It’s cranberry season! Check your supermarket for sales. Lowes Foods and Food Lion had them on sale for $1.99/pack recently. I always stock up the freezer every fall when they’re on sale so I have fresh berries throughout the year. If you’re friendly with the produce guy, he may give you the scoop on upcoming sales and you won’t have to buy them at full-price. I owe my good cranberry fortune to the produce guy at the Lowes Food at Rts 42 and 50 in Garner.
I’ve made countless loaves of cranberry bread over the years. Usually I follow the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry package. It’s convenient, easy and a delicious version that my mother always makes. Last weekend I gathered my ingredients, including a package of Trader Joe’s cranberries that’s been lingering in the freezer for way too long. However, when I looked at the back there was only a recipe for cranberry sauce. I pulled out my cookbooks and found a good recipe in The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.
It’s been years since I’ve baked out of this cookbook. I forgot how good and reliable it is. It has a strong New England slant that I like. King Arthur Flour started in Boston in 1790 as Henry Wood & Company and today is still going strong in Norwich, Vermont. Browsing through other cranberry recipes, I came across one for a New England version of a Festival Bread that I once made. According to my note on the page, it was “Excellent!” I plan to make that one this year during the holidays. It’s a yeast bread filled with cranberries, golden raisins, currants and warm spices — cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.
The Ocean Spray cranberry bread uses a lot more orange juice than the King Arthur version, omits the milk and boiling water, uses more cranberries and less nuts, and bakes at a higher temperature.
I did a combination of the two recipes and was very pleased with the results. As I usually do with quick breads, I substituted whole wheat flour for part of the all-purpose flour, and brown sugar for part of the granulated sugar. I also added vanilla and cinnamon to the mix. Next time, I will forgo the milk and boiling water and stick to orange juice. In case I don’t have oranges in the fridge, it’s good to know that the King Arthur version is equally delicious. Proof: the loaf was sliced only a little while before I took this photo. Look how much the two of us already ate.
Cranberry Nut Bread
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Juice of one orange — zest the orange first, then juice it
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup milk
- Boiling water
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries, chopped if you wish
- 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
- Zest from one orange, about 1 Tbsp but more is okay
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a 1-cup measuring cup, combine the orange juice, oil, milk and enough boiling water to make it 1 cup of liquid. Add this to the beaten egg and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring only enough to combine. Fold in the cranberries, walnuts and orange zest. Spoon batter into greased loaf pan and tap it on the counter to release any air pockets.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 60-75 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took closer to 75 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.