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Cranberry Orange Nut Quick Bread Recipe
Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
What are Quick Breads?
Quick breads are breads that are not made with yeast; instead baking powder and/or baking soda are used as leavening agents. Quick breads are much quicker to prepare than yeast breads (as the name implies) since there is no kneading of the dough nor waiting for the yeast to raise the dough.
A leavening agent is an ingredient that lightens the dough by producing tiny pockets of carbon dioxide. This makes the finished product light and “airy.” Yeast leavens dough, but eggs, baking soda, and baking powder can serve the same function. Dense breads such as biscuits are very slightly leavened, but other quick breads like muffins, pancakes and breads made with fruit and vegetables (like banana bread or zucchini bread) also use eggs for a more cake-like texture.
Usually the wet and dry ingredients are prepared separately. Then they are quickly mixed together with a spoon. They should be mixed just enough to blend the wet and dry ingredients together; too much mixing will make the bread hard, dry, and tasteless. Once the dough is ready, it should be baked immediately. As soon as the baking soda and/or baking powder come in contact with the acidic ingredient in the wet mixture, they will start to produce the carbon dioxide bubbles. Those bubbles need to stay within the bread and not dissipate into the air.
Quick breads are easy to make. Because they are so quick and easy, they are the perfect thing to make when you have unexpected company or for an impromptu potluck. They make a nice gift also.
Why are Cranberries, Oranges, and Walnuts Good for You?
Cranberries, oranges, and walnuts are part of a group of foods called “super- foods” because they are high in antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.
Antioxidants reduce free-radicals in the body and protect against inflammation that can cause cancer and heart disease. They strengthen the immune system and even have anti-aging properties.
They are high in fiber which is important for proper digestion. High fiber diets help lower cholesterol and prevent weight gain. They keep the digestive system working properly.
The vitamins (Vitamin C, for instance) and minerals in these foods are important for good health.
Cranberries help to prevent urinary tract infections.
Oranges are high in potassium, an electrolyte mineral responsible for helping the heart function well.
Walnuts provide high levels of plant-based omega-3 fats. These fats are helpful in preventing arthritis and Alzheimer's disease among other things.
Best of all these foods taste great. Cranberries add a zesty tartness, oranges are sweet and juicy, and walnuts provide a satisfying crunch.
Get the Ingredients ReadyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Get Everything Ready.
It is helpful to prepare all the ingredients and equipment in advance of beginning the recipe. You will need a 9" X 5" baking pan, a mixing bowl, a one-cup liquid measuring cup for the juice, a one-cup measuring cup for the dry ingredients, a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, a bowl and fork for beating the egg, a juicer, a grater, a sturdy wooden spoon, and a food-processor.
Preheat the oven to 350. Chop the walnuts. I like to do this using my fingers to break the walnut halves into smaller pieces. (If I do it with a knife, pieces tend to go flying. If I do it in a food processor, I end up with walnut sawdust.)
Grate the orange rind. It is easier to do this when the orange is still whole. Use the side of the grater with the small holes. Juice the orange by cutting the orange in half around it's equator--do not cut through the stem end--and using a juicing utensil.
Measure out and pick over the cranberries to remove any that have gone soft. Put them in the food processor. A few quick pulses is all that is needed to get them coarsely chopped.
Measure out and melt the butter. I melted it in a baking ramekin. You can use the microwave on low power or put the ramekin in the oven as it preheats. Watch it carefully; you don't want the butter to boil or burn.
Get the canisters of flour and sugar out on your kitchen counter. Get the boxes of baking soda, baking, powder, and salt ready as well.
Now you are all set to quickly assemble the dough and get it in the oven.
- 2 cups cranberries, frozen or fresh
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 orange
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 TBS butter, melted
Preparing the BatterClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Preheat oven to 350. Put the cranberries into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Set aside. Chop the walnuts.
- Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Grate the rind and put it in a measuring cup. Beet the egg and add it to the measuring cup. Add the melted butter. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. (Discard the pulp.) Add enough juice to make 3/4 cup of liquid ingredients. If needed, add water or orange juice to reach 3/4 of a cup.
- Pour the orange mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon to blend flour mixture completely into the orange juice mixture. The mixture will be very thick.
- Add the cranberries and walnuts to the mixture. Stir to mix.
- Spoon the batter into a 9" X 5" loaf pan. Shake the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Run a groove down the middle of the loaf with a spoon.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until the top is brown. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
- Cool the finished loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the bread. Place a wire rack over the top of the pan and invert the pan. Set it on the counter. The bread should slide out onto the rack. If it doesn't, give the bottom of the pan a few hard slams with the palm of your hand to loosen it. Let the bread cool another 30 minutes and then transfer to a serving plate. Do not attempt to cut it until it has completely cooled.
The Bread is ReadyClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Test for Doneness
You can tell whether cakes and breakfast breads are done by looking at them. They should be lightly browned on top. The edges of the cake or bread will have shrunk slightly away from the pan. The center will have peaked.
The ultimate test is the toothpick test. Hold a toothpick with your fingers and Insert it into the center of the cake or loaf. Quickly remove the toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean with perhaps a crumb or two clinging to it, you cake or bread is done. If wet batter clings to the toothpick, give the cake or bread about five minutes more baking time and then test again.
Instead of the toothpick you can use a thin bamboo or metal turkey skewer. If you use a metal skewer you won't be able to see the crumb adhering to it because the metal is too slippery for the crumb to stick.. If don't have a toothpick, try a strand of uncooked spaghetti.
As a last resort, you can always use a small knife with a thin blade, However, it will leave a mark where you inserted the knife.
This toothpick test also works for custard pies (like pumpkin pie or coconut cream pie) or for cheesecake. Of course, with custard pies, you are only looking to see if some batter clings to the toothpick.There won't be any crumbs.
For a Special Treat, Glaze the Bread.
Mix one half cup of confectionery sugar with one or two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed orange juice. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Sprinkle a few chopped walnuts over the top.
Glazed Cranberry Orange Nut Bread
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!
This bread freezes well. Freeze the entire loaf or slice and freeze each slice individually.
If you want to make two loaves, do not double the recipe. Make the batter for each loaf individually.
© 2014 Catherine Giordano