We had cranberries in the freezer, left over from Christmas, and Thanksgiving before that. This is what happens when you buy a three-pound bag of fresh cranberries at Costco. You either use them all at once, or you use them over time, keeping them in the freezer to preserve them. Last week, I needed to make room in the freezer. The final third of the bag of cranberries had to go. It was time; after two months in the freezer, they weren't getting better. They were perfect for baking, though. I put them to good use in a big loaf of cranberry-nut bread.
This recipe is based on the zucchini bread recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook. This is my everyday, multipurpose, good-solid-American-food cookbook. I've had it since I was 24, a new bride and a terrible cook. The Bear gave it to me for Christmas that year. He may have been trying to send a message, in his lovely, gentle way. The recipes aren't very adventurous, but every one of them works. It's one of the most effective collections of recipes I've ever seen. The zucchini bread recipe is excellent and makes a delicious loaf. I decided to try using the same basic recipe to make cranberry-nut bread, with substitutions. Cranberry and orange go together beautifully, and I've seen bread recipes which use orange juice or orange peel, but not always both. I love oranges, so I chose to use both. This isn't exactly decadent but it's really good. And I'm glad to share my ideas, if not my tart and tasty tea loaf.
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice*
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups thawed, rinsed cranberries
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease bottom of 9-inch loaf baking pan (or two smaller loaf pans).
Mix sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, juice and peel in a large bowl (I use my standing mixer with paddle attachment). Gradually add remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 70 to 80 minutes. Loaf should be medium-brown on top, and a knife stuck in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack for one hour, then remove loaf to cool on the rack for an additional hour.
Makes 24 slices.
* I juiced one very large navel orange, extracting just under 1/2 cup juice. I added water to equal 1/2 cup (a tablespoon or two of water). I also used this orange for my grated peel. Bottled orange juice would work fine too.