Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiced Cranberry Pecan Bread

'Tis the season...well almost, but Thanksgiving is just a week away in our neck of the woods, so it's a shame not to start using up the seasonal produce that starts lining up the grocery shelves this time of year. I randomly picked up a bag of juicy and tart cranberries and a bag of fresh pecans, and then set about wondering what to do with them.

While I was clearing out my unforgiving and ever-growing stash of cut-out magazine and newspaper recipes, I chanced upon a  recipe for cranberry walnut bread with a generous dose of spice, which I thought was uncommon for this combo.

Though I've baked with dried cranberries before, I was a little intimidated with using fresh berries, because they are, well, an acquired taste for sure. Their tartness is a little powerful, but more overpowering is the taste of the skin. However, my fears were allayed a little when I saw that Joy of Baking mentioned that something almost magical happens when fresh cranberries bake, they lose a little of their sourness and their skins almost become sweet.

So I baked.

And magic happened :-).

The result was a soft loaf with a pleasing crunchy exterior and buttery interior - even though you don't use that much butter in the recipe! It is almost cake like the day it is baked, over time, it takes on a hearty bread appeal. I love the crunch of the pecans and the just-right tartness of the cranberries. Looks like I have found a go-to recipe for those lazy afternoons post-Thanksgiving lunch when you wonder what to munch with afternoon tea!

Cranberry Pecan Bread
Before anyone screams plagiarism, this recipe was adapted from one printed in the Houston Chronicle, December 16, 2009 that I had once upon a time furtively cut out and filed away. There was no source cited, the recipe was part of an article about making edible gifts for the holidays. The original recipe used walnuts and had quantities doubled for 2 loaves.

Non-stick cooking spray
2 cups cranberries
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (juice from 1 large orange)
3/4 cups low fat buttermilk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup pecans (can subst. walnuts/almonds)

For topping:
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Spray a regular loaf baking tin with the non-stick spray.
3. Toast pecans or walnuts in a saucepan over medium heat, or in a pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully - they burn quickly! Remove from heat and let cool. After cooling, roughly chop the nuts and reserve.
4. Coarsely chop the cranberries and reserve. I had frozen the cranberries right after I bought them from the store, so I found them easier to work with and chop.
5. Whisk together the orange juice, buttermilk and egg in a bowl. Add melted (not hot) butter and stir.
6.  Combine all the dry ingredients in another bowl - whole wheat flour, AP flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix together lightly.
7. Pour wet ingredients into dry, combine with a spatula until just mixed. Do not over-mix.
8. Add cranberries and pecans. Gently combine and pour into loaf pan.
9. Mix topping ingredients, sugar, cardamom and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
10. Bake until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean ~ 50- 55 minutes.
11. Remove from oven and cool before transferring to a serving dish. Resist the urge to cut the loaf while it is hot, it will not slice well.

This entry goes off to this month's Monthly Mingle - Fruit In Baking, started by the uber-talented Meeta of Whats For Lunch, Honey? and hosted this month by the equally talented Deeba of Passionate About Baking. I love the work of both these phenomenal bloggers, as a fellow friend/blogger once said, you leave their blogs positively inspired!


An Open Book said...

have never cooked with cran...because of the tart/ sour taste..maybe i should give it a go now that you say its nice in a loaf.

Lena Rashmin Raj said...

wowww...this looks super yummy Ann...cran s the best thing for ladies.. healthy recipe

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That looks fantastic! I don't think I've ever baked with fresh cranberries either but this post makes me want to! :D

Apu said...

Yumm!! One of my favourites!!

Deeba PAB said...

I want to bake with fresh cranberries too Ann, and this is just like the warm comforting cake I love!'s to furtively clipped recipes from papers, and let the screamers scream! Thanks a million for joining the Mingle. It's lovely to have you over! xo

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

The crunch of the crust, the earthiness of the loaf and the tang of those soft cranberries sound wonderful.