Those who know me well know that I slog through the heat and humidity of Florida summers. . .but it’s all worth it when Fall hits and we enjoy cooler temps and low humidity levels! Ahhh. . .now is the time to turn off the A/C, open the windows, and embrace our beautiful, Spring-like weather.
It’s also the time when I start thinking about holiday dishes, including some of my favorite baked goods. Which leads me to this cranberry nut bread — a staple in my house, one that my family and I always make around the holidays, since that’s when cranberries are freshest and readily available. I’m pretty sure our recipe originated from the folks at Ocean Spray, with a few tweaks along the way, but it’s definitely a classic.
Speaking of cranberries, they can be used in savory or sweet dishes, and I love just about everything with those beautiful berries. I believe I’ve tasted every one of those dishes, including a memorable salad I was served years ago in which the berries were mixed with granola, nuts, Rice Krispies and chocolate bits, all melded together in lime Jell-O. . .let’s just say that one was NOT my favorite. But one that I absolutely adored was “Nantucket Cranberry Pie,” a recipe shared by beloved food writer, Laurie Colwin. She got the recipe from a friend who got it from her mother, but from there the trail runs cold. It’s called a pie, but it’s really a cake! Laurie wrote “I like a cake that takes about four seconds to put together and gives an ambrosial result.” Bingo. So if you’re looking for a delicious and easy “pie/cake,” check that one out 🙂
Now, back to my cranberry nut bread. . .
Since Fall is here, it’s a great time to bake some, cut a big, crumbly slice and enjoy it with a cup of hot coffee or tea. The tartness of the berries blends nicely with the sweetness of the orange, so it’s a match made in Heaven.
And if you’d like to learn more about cranberry harvesting, check out my recent Field Trip Friday to a cranberry bog in Wareham, Massachusetts. Here are just a few of the cranberries they harvested that day. . .
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ c. vegetable shortening
- ¾ c. orange juice
- Zest of one large orange
- 1 large egg, beaten
- ½ c. walnuts or pecans, chopped (I like to toast them first)
- 1½ c. fresh cranberries, roughly chopped (add more if you like it really cranberry-y)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease a 9X5 loaf pan.
- Toast the nuts (if desired) over low heat in a small non-stick pan; set aside to cool.
- Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then cut in the shortening.
- Combine orange juice and zest with egg then pour all at once into dry ingredients, mixing just enough to dampen everything.
- Fold in nuts and cranberries.
- Spoon batter into pan, and smooth the top with a spatula. If you use a smaller loaf pan, spread batter into corners and sides slightly higher than the center (since it’s a heavy batter).
- Bake about 1 hour, but check it around 50-55 minutes. When toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it’s ready!
- Cool at least 20 minutes, then remove from pan to serve or refrigerate.