Gently warmed and slathered with butter, this bread tastes like Christmas morning to me. My mother has made this bread every Christmas for the past several years. She doesn’t remember where the recipe came from, just that she remembered her own grandmother making breads with dried fruit around the holidays.
When she noticed cranberries on sale at Thanksgiving one year, my ever-frugal mother decided to try them in a bread. Slipped into a plastic bags tied with a handsome bow, a loaf makes a lovely holiday hostess gift. It’s also a nice addition to a traditional holiday menu, plus it can offer a nice alternative to cranberry sauce. It’s the bomb when used with leftover turkey for sandwiches. Walnuts are an obvious seasonal choice for nuts here, but I’ve used almonds and pecans with great success. (Although my husband, Mike, doesn’t like nuts in baked goods. It’s a texture thing, so I typically leave them out.) I like to use a micro-planer for the orange peel; it spreads the flavor more evenly throughout the finished bread. This yields about three to four small loaves.
2 cups (230 g) fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup (150 g) chopped nuts
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
4 cups (500 g) all purpose flour
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons shortening
1 1/5 cups orange juice
3 eggs, well beaten
Preheat oven to 350 F degree (180 C). Generously grease and lightly flour a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan. Prepare cranberries, nuts and orange peel. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda. Cut in shortening (see video below) in the bowl. Stir in orange juice, egg and orange peel mixing just to moisten. Fold in cranberries and nuts using a spatula. Spoon into a prepared pan, up to about halfway up. Bake 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely. Wrap and store overnight.