A Triumph, If I Do Say So Myself...

I have a recipe to share with you…one that is my very own.

Each year, I make several loaves of cranberry orange bread. Each year, I’ve never been quite satisfied with the results…until this year. (In previous years, the bread was always either too dry, or not orangey enough to suit me, or not sweet, or always something that wasn’t quite right.)

I finally tweaked all the various recipes I’ve used over the years, and came up with what is truly the best cranberry orange bread. Um - in my ever so humble opinion.

This one is worth making just for the smell of it, when you are mixing it all together. The freshly grated orange peel, combined with the fresh cranberries (I’d always used dried cranberries until this year) is an intoxicant. The orange peel is the biggest hassle to grate – you have to be careful not to get the white “pith” part, just the surface orange part – but so well worth it. Have fun with this one, and feel free to tweak THIS recipe….make it "yours"....but, if you have not made cranberry orange bread before, I recommend that you make it exactly as follows first…then, make notes as to your opinion of the results, and if it needs something different, you then tweak it to your taste the next time you bake it.

I upped the sugar, upped the salt, changing it to coarse salt, which I vastly prefer. When you use coarse salt, you need more…if you use regular table salt, reduce the amount listed by half, to about ½ a tsp.

I drained and then pureed a can of mandarin oranges instead of the usual plain orange juice, used fresh cranberries rather than dried, and because of that, reduced the amount of cranberries. Fresh cranberries are bitter, and I prefer the bread to be a little more sweet. I also omitted all spices such as clove or nutmeg. That is enough of a “tweak” to make this my own recipe.

Also, I could have said something like "1/4 cup vegetable oil" instead of 5 T. But I just added the oil, by tablespoons, until it all "looked right". The count was 5. So sue me. I went with it.

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 - 3/4 cup sugar, to taste
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp coarse salt, if desired
4 tsp grated orange peel - this takes about 2 good sized oranges to obtain
1 – 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained and pureed in the blender, enough to make ¾ cup orange “juice”
5 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1 heaping cup fresh cranberries, sliced in half or coarsely chopped (I also just stick these in the blender and “chop” them that way…)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, orange peel, mandarin orange “juice”, and egg. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring the two mixtures just enough to moisten the dry ingredients.

3. Fold in the cranberries and nuts, and pour the batter into a greased 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf pan, or several mini loaf pans, filling half-way.

4. Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour (about 45 minutes if you're using mini loaf pans). Cool before slicing.
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