This project earned me a guest spot here. Of this I'm proud! It all started one afternoon at a hobby and craft superstore. I'd loaded up on some fabulous yarn and found the sculpting clay on a big discount. I was already a little euphoric when I walked past an end cap of adorable little Christmas-themed personal loaf crocks. I squealed as I kept up the spirited grab-and-growl behavior and filled my arm basket with seven of these little pans. Why seven? I have no idea. Yes, I thought I'd bake a little Christmas bread of some kind for some friends and colleagues, but did I count the people I'd need to bake for? No. I grabbed until I'd fetched all of my favorite snowman and santa and reindeer and angel pans. I wound up with seven. They were a dollar apiece. I smiled with satisfaction over how clever I was. I'd spend just a few dollars more on the ingredients for my as-of-yet unknown holiday sweet bread. And I predicted the delight of the recipients of my little made-with-love gift.
I don't like nuts. Wait. Let me clarify. I love my sister and she's a nut. I like to eat a handful of just about any kind of nut. But I don't like nuts when they've been put IN other things. Best way to ruin a brownie or a gooey cinnamon roll? Add nuts. When I went in search of just-the-right holiday sweet bread for my festive personal loaf gifts, I had to wade through a lot of nuts. Fruitcake is just not okay. There's too much going on in there.
This lovely little cranberry and orange bread has a lot going. The recipe called for nuts and I left them out to try to cut down on the chaos. I'll give you the recipe here with nuts included, just in case nutty chaos is your thing.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup buttermilk, chilled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (about half of 1 orange)
1½ cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare one 9x5x2¾ inch loaf pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked bread easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust with flour.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, egg, buttermilk, melted butter, orange juice, and orange zest; whisk together until well blended. Add flour mixture; stir just until blended. Add cranberries and nuts; lightly stir to mix in.
- Pour batter in the loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and let cool about 15 minutes. Grabbing the top edges of the parchment paper, lift bread from loaf pans and place on wire rack to finish cooling. Remove parchment paper and discard.
Makes 1 loaf
A couple of notes about how I played by my own rules. I chopped those cranberries, as you can see, by hand. Not a fabulous idea. But after I gave them a couple of slices, I gave them a rinse. The pesky seeds jump around just like the cranberries and they washed easily down the drain.
I also doubled my recipe. Had enough left over to make a few muffins for myself. Next time, I might sprinkle some coarse sugar over the top. That orange zest and those cranberries are pretty robust. They could use a little more sugar, actually. But I'm not a big fan of things that are overly sweet.
Maybe a big loaf takes an entire hour to be done, but my tiny servings took 20 minutes or so before the toothpick came out clean.
Here's what I did with the yarn I found that day:
The sculpting clay is destined to make some more friends for these guys.