My apologies for not joining the ranks of fellow food bloggers who are posting oodles of pink, red, swirly-twirly, lovey-dovey chocolate covered happiness this week. I went out of my way last year with a tin of chocolate iced cookies covered with sparkly sprinkles, and the man I gave them to will be my husband in thirty-six days, so as far as I'm concerned, that deal is sealed.
I posted a similar recipe way back when I was writing for the Frederick News Post, but sometimes I fear that some of you will never scroll to the bottom of the Recipe Index to find it, and knowing that possibility, I just couldn't live with myself. So I dug it up, gave it a quick makeover to skip all that fussy orange syrup and icing, swapped out the dried cranberries (they are so sweet!) for fresh and gave the citrus a much needed kick in the pants. Oh orange and cranberry, truly you are meant to be together.
I was a little hesitant about making this bread, not just because it's been done before, but because that meant I'd have to dip into my shrinking stash of fresh cranberries buried deep in the icy depths of my freezer and risk the wrath of my Dad when he asks for cranberry upside down cake in July and I can't produce one. These are real life dilemmas.
This bread is a one-bowl kind of recipe, the best kind of recipe, if you ask me. I avoided digging in late at night with the intent to eat a thick slice for breakfast over my morning tea, so you can imagine my rage when I came downstairs only to find my mother took the entire loaf to work with her. She brought the leftovers home. Smart choice, Mom. Smart choice.
Make this for someone you love. Or you want to love. Or whoever. Just make it.
Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Zest of 2 large oranges
1 cup orange juice
4 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, some whole, some chopped
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 8x4 inch loaf pans, line with a sling of parchment paper, then butter the parchment.
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the orange zest. Using your hands, work the orange zest into the sugar, rubbing it together and clumping it in your palms until the sugar has a light orange color and is very aromatic. (You can stick your face in the bowl and inhale, I won't tell.) Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the orange juice, eggs, and melted butter. Stir it together until the dry ingredients just disappear and no longer. Toss in the walnuts and cranberries and mix until just combined.
Fill the pans with an equal amount of batter and place both pans on a light-colored baking sheet. (This is not an absolute must, but I find it keeps the bottoms from getting too dark, too quickly, and it allows the loaves to bake more evenly.) Bake for 45 minutes to an hour (mine was about 50 minutes) or until a a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The tops of my loaves never turned very dark, which I like, but it also saves you the hassle of covering them with a foil tent halfway through the baking time.
Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool in their pans for about an hour. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Wrapped tightly, they will keep at room temperature for about 5 days, or in the freezer for about a month.