Okay, if stores can already have their Christmas decorations up, then I feel I can go ahead and post my favorite holiday bread recipe (another one from my mom). I made it this week to have for breakfast, although I had to make it with dried cranberries because my local HEB doesn’t have fresh ones in yet. I prefer it with fresh cranberries and dried orange peel, but have made it with dried cranberries and fresh orange peel and all other permutations (fresh/fresh and dried/dried).
If you’re making it as a healthy breakfast bread, use some whole wheat flour as indicated below. If you’re making it for holiday guests or gifts (it’s great in small loaves), you might want to use only all-purpose. It’s a pretty healthy bread because of the low amount of fat (just 4 tablespoons of butter for 2 loaves!), although it’s got plenty of sugar, which gives it a beautiful and slightly chewy golden-brown crust.
I also like it because it only uses one bowl (I beat the eggs in the measuring cup used for the orange juice). You cut the butter into the dry ingredients, then add the wet. A pastry cutter makes the most efficient tool for cutting in the butter, but I’ve used the end of my whisk, a fork, two butter knives, or a combination of these things if my hand got tired. I’ve never made it in a mixer, but that might work. You could also try putting the butter in a food processor with a cup or so of the dry ingredients and pulse until it disappears, but then you’re using more than one bowl! If you decide to experiment, let me know how it turns out.
Mom’s Cranberry Bread
(makes 2 loaves)
2 cups fresh cranberries, halved (up to 3 cups)
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons cold butter
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 eggs, well beaten
2 Tablespoons grated orange peel
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (or use Baker’s Joy). Combine flours, baking powder and soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl; stir with a whisk to combine. Add butter in small chunks or pats, then cut it in with a pastry cutter or fork until it has disappeared.
Add orange juice and stir just to combine. Do the same with the beaten eggs. Lastly, fold in cranberries, nuts and orange peel. Divide batter between pans. Bake for 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes in pans, then cool completely on racks before storing or wrapping for gifts.
I hope you enjoy it,