Bread of the Month: Beating winter blahs with orange, cranberries

lede01cranIn my youth, I was resistant to cranberries. My over-sensitive tastebuds (as is the case with most childhood tongues) couldn’t tolerate their bitter tartness, nor could they handle dark chocolate or hot sauce. Today, my tastebuds, matured and more dulled and ready for strong flavors, make staples of all three.

My love of cranberries extends to making more than one batch of sauce at holiday time, adding dried cranberries to whatever I can and mulling warmed cranberry juice with a wintertime blend of spices.

imageber02With the holidays past, I found myself recently dwelling in a dullsville of blahs. I searched for a lift and found it, hiding, in the bottom of my produce drawer. A bag of whole cranberries, purchased at least a month prior, still fresh and firm and as bright red as a glowing string of lights. What to do….cranberry bread!

I craved the bread I had always made, the recipe from the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry package. These muffins are so flavorful, packed with orange flavor from both zest and juice.

imageA very easy recipe, the most challenging part of it is chopping the cranberries. If you have ever chopped them (or tried), you know that they will run. I mean, run all over your kitchen as the knife hits them and they roll off the cutting board, into the sink, shooting across the floor. If you can keep them corralled (I do just a handful at a time so it’s a bit easier to contain their enthusiasm), it’s worth all the trouble, for as many bits of bold red color and flavor distributed throughout these muffins is ideal. I’ve tried other methods ofcran (4) chopping cranberries (veggie choppers, food processor), but return again and again to me, a knife, a cutting board and the resolve to lasso rolling berries. Keeps me on my toes!

This easy quick bread batter is moist from orange juice, an egg and a mere two tablespoons of oil, so flavor triumphs over fat! Except, I like to incorporate pecans as my nut of choice, but nut fat, as we are learning, is a fat we can live with.

image (2)I often make this bread in its traditional loaf form, but it works delightfully as muffins and you get them from the oven quicker (just about 15 to 18 minutes)! Twelve exactly.

Sometimes, when the winter blahs have thrown you off balance, the exactness of an even dozen is just what is called for.

Classic Cranberry Nut Bread
Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 tablespoons shortening

1 egg, well beaten

1 1/2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan. 

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 1 loaf (16 slices).

Blogger’s note: This recipe calls for shortening, but I’ve found the recipe on the back of the package calls for an 2 tablespoons of oil. I’ve tried both, successfully. For muffins, scoop a standard ice cream scoop full of batter into 12 greased regular muffin cups. Bake approximately 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown.


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