Cranberry Nut Bread
Sweet, orange-scented and chock-full of cranberries and walnuts, this bread is perfect for the holidays. I came up with the recipe over the weekend because I had a ton of fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving. There was a Cranberry Nut Bread recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag and I figured, “How bad could it be?” Well, I should have known better. It was dry, tough and sunken in the middle. A pound of butter, five loaves and one very messy kitchen later, I arrived at this version.
It’s a classic quick bread, which means very easy to throw together. The hardest part is chopping up the fresh cranberries because they like to roll all over the place. But it’s important to use them as opposed to dried because they add a pleasant tartness and look so pretty and festive once the bread is sliced.
Begin by combining the buttermilk, orange zest, orange juice, melted butter and egg in a small bowl. You can use freshly squeezed orange juice or bottled – it doesn’t matter. Also, since the recipe calls for only 2/3 cup of buttermilk, you might not want to buy a whole carton. It’s easy to make your own by combining regular milk with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar (see recipe below for exact quantities).
Next, whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry.
Stir gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.
Add the chopped cranberries and nuts.
Scrape the batter into a loaf pan.
Bake for about one hour, then cool in the pan for ten minutes.
Turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool completely.
Slice, serve and enjoy!
Adapted with modifications from Cooks Illustrated
Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, from one orange
2/3 cup buttermilk*
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped coarse**
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter and egg. Set aside.
3. 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.
4. Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving.
*Make your own buttermilk by adding to 2 teaspoons lemon juice or white distilled vinegar to wet measuring cup. Add milk until level reaches 2/3 cup. Let sit about 5 minutes until mixture curdles.
**Cranberries are a bit tricky to chop because they roll all over the place. You can use a food processor if you like but I think it’s easier to just cut each one in thirds with a sharp knife. It’s only one cup so it doesn’t take long. If you’re using frozen cranberries, be sure to chop them while they’re still frozen.