Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Love Affair with Cranberries

cranberry bread platter

I have started a love affair with cranberries this year. Oh, I have always loved them but this season I am rediscovering the pleasures of adding their tartness to an array of dishes and baked goods.

cranberry orange bread slices

Orange, whether zest or fresh squeezed juice, brings out their loveliness even more. Too often, they are limited to make a shy gooey appearance out of a can at Thanksgiving. No offense to the canned-cranberry-sauce lovers out there, but this does no justice to this beautiful fruit. I am partial to scones, muffins and bread bursting with citrus and chunks of these bright red berries. And, when it comes to my Thanksgiving table, I follow in my sister's footsteps and make a delicious homemade cranberry-blueberry sauce which she introduced me to many years ago. My kids eat it by the bucket-full so I always double the batch.

This year, I have discovered a new recipe for Cranberry-Orange Bread. The aroma that fills my house as I type this post is simply indescribable. You'll have to bake a loaf to find out for yourself. Be warned: it must be left alone to cool for an hour before being sliced--not an easy thing to comply with when the sweet enticing smell teases you mercilessly.

So what is so different about this bread that warrants such passion on my part? The batter for one is sweet with orange pulp and a pillowy texture. The cranberries are crushed while still frozen, thereby providing the perfect cranberry flavor to bite ratio. The pulpy juice of fresh oranges makes such a delightful difference in the intensity of flavor and texture.

Cranberry bread up-close

This recipe was based originally on an America's Test Kitchen recipe.

Cranberry Orange Bread (makes 1 loaf)
If you are not concerned about the gluten you can make this recipe using 2 cups all-purpose flour (just omit the xantham gum) instead of the first 5 ingredients. If you are gluten free but would rather use a baking mix feel free to do so but don't forget to add the xantham as indicated in the recipe. I like the addition of almond meal but I have made this loaf entirely with Bob's Red Mill GF mix before with excellent results.

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cups fruit flavored kefir yogurt, or other liquid yogurt (buttermilk is a good substitute)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice with pulp
1 tablespoon of orange zest
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup agave nectar, or honey

1/2 cup of crushed frozen cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven 375F
Oil a loaf pan

Mix all the first 9 ingredients together in a bowl.
In another bowl: mix the oil, applesauce, kefir, juice, zest, egg and agave nectar until well combined.
Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl. Add the cranberries and nuts and mix thoroughly. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Check for doneness after an hour by inserting a knife in the center. Blade should come out clean. Let cool for an hour before slicing.

Artsy-Foodie's Tip:
Make this recipe into muffins for a nice individual treat. Reduce the baking time to 30 minutes instead.

Stop by for a visit later on this week for a wonderful apple-cranberry salad dressing recipe...


FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels said...

Orange and cranberries make the best marriage!

VeggieGirl said...

Ooooh yes, cranberries and I have been having an affair as well ;-)

Looove your cranberry-orange treat!!

Stacey Snacks said...

I have a leftover bag of fresh cranberries, I think I will make this today!
Thanks for the tip!

maybelle's mom said...

Oh, it sounds wonderful...I adore cranberries.

Marysol said...

Alexa, this is one of my favorite quick breads, and yours looks wonderful!
Your recipe gives me an excuse to finally bake with agave nectar. Thank you.

kat said...

I'm with you about cranberries, I'm so happy when they are in season

Elra said...

I also like to buy Bob's Red Mill products. Though I never really try any GF baking, more and more I see recipe of bread or cakes using GF flour. I feel tempted to make it and wonder how it taste too.

Leonor de Sousa Bastos said...

This cranberry orange bread looks absolutely delicious!!

And I'm sure it would came out wonderfully like small muffins too!!

Well done!

veggie belly said...

Your bread looks yummy! I have a pack of fresh cranberries; I'll be trying your recipe!

zebe912 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zebe912 said...

This looks so yummy, and the ref. sugar are already mostly subbed (easy conversion at least!). I will still sub the bean flour since I don't like that taste. What do you think about teff or sorghum instead? I need to remember to buy some oranges and cranberries...

Alexa said...

I am glad you liked the recipe. I would favor sorghum over teff. I love Teff I use it all the time in my breads but it has a strong flavor. It might compete too much with the citrus and cranberries in this recipe. Enjoy!

Sophie said...

I don't know if I could leave it alone for an hour before digging in :). I adore cranberries! Love the other ingredients you paired it with too :). I definitely won't forget to add that xanthan gum ;), I've had too many learning experiences!

Mary Ann said...

I couldn't agree with you more, cranberries and orange are one of my favorite combinations. I love that you incorporated cranberries into your DB cake. It sounds so delicious that way. This bread looks great- I am glad I have a couple bags of cranberries in the fridge!

bee said...

dear alexa,
there's something for you here.

Andrea said...

I love that you're not using dried cranberries for this! I assume fresh would also work, as well as frozen? Looks great!

CECIL said...

I am always intimidated with bread baking. :( The mentioning of muffins, it'd be such great treat. Freeze some of them and just pop it in oven for good yummy breakfast.

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

This sounds wondrous!! I love the flavor of orange and cranberries together.

Passionate About Baking said...

Your post is making the bread & me sing Alexa...YUM...what a great marriage of flavours. Sadly, we don't get cranberries of any sort here; I'm just gonna sit here & drool!

nicisme said...

I love them too, but not had a cranberry bread before - v. interesting!

Yasmeen said...

Scrumptious bread!I'm in love with cranberries and pomegranates this season:).

syrie said...

Looks lovely and moist. The garbanzo bean flour is a very interesting addition.

Maris said...

Wow. Cranberries really are getting around these days. I second (or third!) the love affair. Cranberries are delish on sandwiches.

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds so delicious, but as a peson who can only eat a limited amount of grains, and very little sugar, I wonder if most or all of the brown rice and millet flours could be substituted with another bean flour, such as aduki bean flour or soy flour. Also, could more agave syrup be used instead of the sugar?

Alexa said...

I play around with various flours a lot but I think that an all bean mix would be too heavy for this bread. If you are allowed nuts in your diet, I would try to mix half almond meal and a bean flour (or mixture) of your choice (+ xantham gum). This should lighten the texture a bit.

Have you ever baked with chestnut flour? Apparently, it's used in cakes in Italy. I am planning on experimenting with it in the future. Is it an option for you?

As far as the sugar is concerned, I love substituting agave nectar instead of sugar in recipes. It will change the texture a bit (the extra moisture might benefit the heavier flour in this case). Keep in mind, that agave nectar is a stronger sweetener than sugar so you'll want to use less than the recipe. I would use 1/2 cup of agave in this recipe and omit all sugar.

I hope this helps you. :-)

zebe912 said...

I just thought I'd let you know that I made this today. I had fresh cranberries so I put them in the freezer a bit then chopped them in the food processor. I subbed sorghum for the bean flour, and did 1/8 tapioca & 1/8 teff to sub the millet. I used sucanat for my gran. sugar since I don't use ref. sugar. It came out great, although I think I'll lower my oven temp next time. The outside was done much sooner than the inside was, even with putting foil over the top part way through baking. Other than the overly brown bottom, it is YUMMY and a great texture!!

Lori said...

I just thought I'd let you know that we are in love with the same guy... Mr. Cranberry.

I dont know what it is this year but I cant get enough of them. I bought rwo 3 lb bags after Thanksgiving (half of it is gone already). I had used a three pound bag getting ready for Thanksgiving as well.

I made cranberry salsa, which I just cant get enough of!

Your bread sounds like something I need to make!

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