When Thanksgiving is just a pleasant memory and I’ve put all the good dishes and fancy napkins away (OK, the napkins still linger on the ironing board), I still have cranberries. In fact, I buy extra, so that I can bake this cranberry nut bread.
The cranberry season is relatively short in my area; they seem to disappear from local (mid Atlantic) groceries stores by late December, just as winter sets in. But unlike fresh tomatoes and most fruits, cranberries freeze well. They have to be cooked or baked anyway – they are too tart to be eaten raw except if chopped and mixed with a sweetener, as in raw cranberry relish – and you can don’t have to prepare or rewrap them to freeze them.
I came upon this recipe by accident or by laziness, depending on your view. A few years ago I decided that the cranberry bread recipes I had tried weren’t working – the batter was either too delicate to stand up to the tart cranberries or too heavy. So I experimented with a variation on my favorite banana bread recipe and realized that it had just the right consistency.
If you are brave you can probably fit all the batter into the loaf pan without it running over during baking, but I am a coward. To avoid burned drippings on my oven floor, I reserve a small amount of batter for 1 large or 2 small “bonus” muffins.
Cranberry Nut Bread
Estimated Cost – $7 Servings – 6-8
- 1 bag of cranberries (12 ounces) – I could swear that the bags used to contain a pound of cranberries, but that’s a rant for another day.
- ½ cup (1 stick or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of all purpose white flour
- 1 cup of whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup of hot water
- 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- Loaf pan
- 2 bowls – 1 large and 1 medium
- 1 cup liquid measure
- 1 cup solid measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Large fork (for stirring)
- Whisk (optional)
- Whisk (optional)
- Cookie sheet (to catch drips)
- Muffin cup (optional & not pictured)
- Small saucepan (optional & not pictured)
- Bowl and chopper (or small food processor) for nuts
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease the loaf pan. (When I’m lazy, I use a bit of the butter.)
- Rinse the cranberries and pick out any stems. Set aside.
- Combine the flours, baking soda and salt and mix well. Set aside.
- Melt butter – I microwaved the butter in the larger (microwave-safe) bowl. That works fine if you cut butter in pieces and use low power setting.
- Add the sugar to the melted butter and mix.
- Add the eggs to the butter and sugar and mix.
- Add the cranberries and mix.
- Heat the water in the microwave or a saucepan. It does not need to be boiling, but should be quite hot. (Do not use hot tap water.)
- Add the dry ingredients and water to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, alternating dry first, then water, in 3-4 batches each. The batter will become sticky and dry. At the end it is gloppy.
- Add the chopped nuts and mix them in with the fork.
- Transfer the batter into the loaf pan – it is too sticky to pour; use the fork and spatula.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then lower the oven to 325 degrees and bake for another 45-55 minutes or so, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (A toothpick won’t work to test for doneness because the bread is too tall.) The top of this loaf is a bit too brown for my taste – blame my oven and my not-quite-attentive-enough attitude.
- Let the bread cool in the pan for at least 2-3 hours. Do not unmold until the pan is cool to the touch. Run a knife around the edges before turning the pan over to unmold. This is the muffin –