Quick breads make a sweet snack anytime, but this one, which fills the house with the scent of orange and cranberries, seems particularly apt for winter. Oranges have hit their seasonal peak and fresh cranberries are easiest to find in the year’s final months. Quick breads also make delicious last-minute holiday gifts, welcome even amid plates of cookies.
A mere cup of cranberries flavors two loaves of this bread, leaving the rest of a bag for a fresh cranberry sauce. Cranberries keep for up to a month in the fridge and freeze well for later loaves.
Quick breads are also freezer-friendly. Although you can freeze whole loaves, I like to slice them first. Preslicing lets you open the bag, pull out a couple of slices, reseal the remainder and return the bag to the freezer. Let the loaf cool completely before cutting it into thick slices. If you push the slices back together into the loaf shape, an entire loaf 9-by-5 inch loaf just slides into the bottom of a gallon zip-close freezer bag.
Frozen slices can be defrosted in a toaster or toaster oven for twice as long as you would toast fresh bread. They can also be heated in a skillet with a little butter until warm through the center.
Cranberry-Orange Quick Bread
Makes 2 loaves
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 large orange, zest and juice
1/2 cup pecans or other nuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and applesauce. Mix in the butter, and then beat in each egg; stir in the milk. Zest in the orange peel; cut the orange in half, squeeze in the juice and stir to combine.
Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, stirring until just combined and scraping flour from the bowl’s bottom into the batter. Add the chopped nuts and cranberries, folding them gently into the batter; if desired, reserve a couple of tablespoons of nuts and cranberries for topping.
Split the batter between two lightly greased 9-by-5 inch loaf pans; sprinkle with any nuts and cranberries set aside. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, rotate the pans and then bake another 30 minutes, until the tops are golden and slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, remove from the pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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