It’s cranberry time of year again! I so love cranberries. Not only do I make a simple but killer homemade cranberry sauce for the holidays, but I enjoy baking with cranberries – they have a tartness that lend themselves well to making delicious breads, pies and cookies. So this past week when I saw my first bag of cranberries at the grocery store I just had to buy them and bake something.
Years ago I used to buy box mixes to make cranberry bread. No more. It is so easy to make it yourself and I like the fact that you control what goes into it. Box mixes have become a thing of the past for me. If I can’t make it fresh, I don’t make it.
This particular recipe I did not find on Pinterest. This time I did a Google search and looked at various cranberry sweet bread recipes and their ingredients. A couple of things intrigued me about the recipe I chose. First, it used buttermilk in the batter and I’ve found that buttermilk tends to give you moister cakes/breads. Second, you don’t need a mixer for this recipe so no need to drag out the heavy KitchenAid, and I was loving that. The original recipe called for the bread to be glazed. I did not glaze my bread but I will include the glaze recipe in case you want to try it.
Recipe Rating: A+ This recipe is easy to make, and the combination of ingredients brings out the full flavor of the cranberries, pecans and orange zest – a killer combo in my estimation.
Lesson Learned 1 – Weighing Ingredients: I’ve read so many recipes where the author spoke of the importance of weighing ingredients, specifically flour. I never thought much off it. Normally I make sure my flour is aerated in the canister (swirling a knife in it does the trick) and then scoop out what I need and level it off. This recipe calls for 2 cups of flour or 250g. I recently purchased a kitchen scale and thought I’d try measuring the flour instead. I was surprised at how much “extra” flour I had in my measuring cup when I weighed it. It was eye opening. If you can, invest in a kitchen scale and use it when a recipe lists grams. You’ll be amazed at how much extra you may be putting into your recipe.
I did not weigh the sugar because I know how to adjust that measurement for high altitude so the bread will not fall in on itself. I do that adjustment by sight, but I will include the grams measurement for the sugar and flour in the recipe for those who do not live in high altitude. Use those measurements when at all possible. It really does make a difference
Lesson Learned 2 – Mixing the streusel: I don’t know about you but I have a difficult making streusel even with a pastry cutter. The butter always seems to collect on my pastry cutter and not fall off. This time I cut the cold butter (and it needs to be cold) into small cubes and just mixed it with my hands. I pretty much got the desired consistency. Next time I think I will mix it in my small food processor and see how it turns out. I am including a picture of the consistency of the streusel that worked well on top of the cake.
I’ve made many different versions of cranberry nut breads over the years but I have to say that so far this one is my favorite. The tartness of the cranberries, the hint of orange from the zest combined with the pecans is heavenly. Next time I make this (and this will be made at least one time if not more this holiday season) I will try adding the glaze. But I can assure you, even without the glaze this is a fabulous sweet bread!
Cranberry Orange Pecan Sweet Bread…
1/4 cup (31g) flour
2 Tbs. (30g) sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbs. (45g) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups (250g) flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (110g) chopped fresh cranberries (you can also use unthawed frozen cranberries)
1/2 cup (65g) chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
1 large room temperature egg
1/2 cup (105g) light brown sugar (loosely packed for high altitude)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar (slightly less for high altitude)
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (no substitutions)
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil – I used vegetable oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. orange zest
1 cup (120g) confectioners sugar
1 -2 TBS orange juice
Orange zest to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×4 pan with cooking spray. (I use a professional grade non-stick pan and do not have to do this. Invest in one if you can – it’s worth it).
First make the streusel by tossing the flour, sugar and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter or food processor until you get a crumbly looking mixture. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt cranberries and nuts together. Set aside. In another bowl whisk the egg and sugars until well combined with no lumps. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and orange zest.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir together until combined being careful not to over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Add the streusel on top and press it gently into the batter.
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the bread from the pan.
This bread is great without the glaze. If you choose to glaze it, mix all of the glaze ingredients together and pour on top once the bread has completely cooled.