By Ed Bruske
aka The Slow Cook
The original recipe for this delicious quick bread originally called for fresh cranberries. But with cranberries out of season, we had a choice to make and opted to use sweetened dried cranberries instead. The result is perhaps more like a fruit cake than a bread. So much the better. The kids couldn't get enough.
The kids in my baking classes know by now what a chemical rise is, as opposed to a rise created with yeast. Baking soda and baking powder react with acidic liquids to make dough expand, giving us a tender bread or biscuit instead of a cracker. In this case, we use both baking powder--which contains both alkaline and acidic ingredients--and baking soda to create the rise when combined with orange juice and buttermilk, both of which bring an acid to the equation.
Lots of orange zest, in addition to the juice, also lends a ton of fruit flavor to the bread, complementing the cranberries nicely. Heck, you could serve this bread as a replacement for your traditional cranberry mold. It would be delicious toasted and slathered with cream cheese.
Start with your dry ingredients, whisking together in a large mixing bowl 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. To this add 1/2 cup coarsely chopped and toasted pecans (we skipped the toasting part) and 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cranberries, or dried cranberries.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat one egg, then the grated zest and the juice of 1 large orange, plus 2/3 cup buttermilk and 6 tablespoons melted butter.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. When all of the ingredients are incorporated, scrape the batter into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan greased and dusted with flour (we sprayed with Baker's Joy).
Pay careful attention to the baking instructions. Place the loaf in a pre-heated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is mahogany brown and a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Allow the bread to cool in the pan 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack.