If you’ve seen my banana bread recipe, you know I often give bread as a homemade gift during the holidays. My other favorite homemade gift bread is cranberry nut bread, which I always bake using the following recipe.
With cranberries being so widely available at Thanksgiving and during the holiday season, and the fact that this cranberry nut bread is the perfect blend of tart and sweet, it always makes for an easy and well-received homemade gift.
Cranberry Nut Bread Recipe
To bake one regular-sized loaf of this cranberry nut bread or about three mini-loaves (each one makes the perfect homemade gift because it yields just enough cranberry nut bread for one or two people), you will need:
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries (A food processor comes in handy for this, but you can also chop them by hand.)
¾ cup chopped nuts (Pecans or walnuts both work well in this recipe.)
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons shortening (I prefer butter.)
¾ cup orange juice (You can juice the orange you took the peel from, but you’ll probably need to add a little more to get 3/4 cup.)
1 beaten egg
Preparation of the cranberries, nuts and the orange peel are probably the most time-consuming parts of this recipe; once you get that finished, you’re on your way to moist and delicious cranberry nut bread.
To prepare the cranberries, simply chop them by hand with a chopping knife or use a food processor. If you’re using frozen cranberries, you’ll probably have to chop them by hand or you’ll break your food processor. The cranberries should not be too tiny. You want to taste the cranberries when you bite into the bread. Plus, they add color. And if you’re giving this cranberry nut bread as a homemade gift, you want it to look as good as it tastes.
The nuts should be about the same size. You can buy these already chopped. You can also leave the nuts out if you just don’t like them or just in case someone who receives this cranberry nut bread as a homemade gift is allergic to nuts. The bread will be just as tasty without nuts.
To prepare the orange peel, first wash the skin of the orange well, quarter the orange and then peel it. Cut the peel into pieces that will fit into your grater. I use a cheese grater similar to those used in Italian restaurants; it’s white, and you turn a handle on the side to grate the cheese, or in this case, the orange peel. Simply place the pieces of peel, outer side against the blade, and grate. You just need one tablespoon of the pulverized orange peel, so it shouldn’t take you long.
Now, the hard work is done. Set the cranberries, nuts and grated orange peel aside for a few minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, liberally grease and lightly flour your loaf pan or loaf pans, or spray them with an oil/flour spray made especially for baking. (You’ll find it next to the Pam in the grocery store baking aisle.) I’ve found that metal loaf pans work better than glass ones when making this particular cranberry nut bread.
Next, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Using two table knives, cut the shortening or butter into the dry mixture. Basically, you just keep cutting the pats of butter over and over with the knives until you have tiny butter pieces fairly evenly distributed throughout the dry mixture.
Stir the orange juice, egg and orange peel into the dry mixture next. If you find that it is still too dry, add a splash more of orange juice, but no more. The batter for this cranberry nut bread is supposed to be thick. Do not over mix the batter; stir it just until the dry mixture is moistened. Then fold in the cranberries and nuts using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Use big strokes so that you don’t over mix, which will cause the cranberries to bleed into the batter and your bread to be tough.
Spoon the cranberry nut bread batter into your loaf pan(s). If baking one regular-sized loaf, bake for about 60 minutes. The mini-loaves will take 30 to 35 minutes. Check the doneness of either size loaf by inserting a wooden toothpick in the center. If it comes out clean, the cranberry nut bread is done. If it has a little batter still on it, bake a few minutes more. When it’s ready, you’ll feel a little resistance as you insert the toothpick into the cranberry nut bread.
When your cranberry nut bread is finished, remove it from the oven. Conventional wisdom says to allow your bread to cool 15 minutes before removing it from the pan, but I always have better luck removing it cleanly from the pan if I turn it out onto a cooling rack right away.
This cranberry nut bread is fabulous right out of the oven, but it’s also a great make-ahead recipe. Simply wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and foil and freeze them until you want to enjoy it yourself or share it with someone special as a tasty homemade gift. When you’re ready, tie a ribbon around each loaf, add a festive tag, and you’ve created a pretty and delicious homemade gift.
Banana Bread Recipe