December 5, 2020. Christmas is in just 20 days!
I’m sitting here in my cozy living room. The fireplace is warming up our otherwise chilly home; the Christmas tree is lit with a thousand tiny, warm, white lights. Peaceful music plays in the background. Husband is working this weekend, so I’m left to my thoughts on this beautiful, Saturday morning.
As I sit here, my gaze roams the room, taking in our very eclectic bunch of decorations—some from Cameroon, Congo, South Africa, and Ethiopia, some from Sweden, India, South Korea, and American, some homemade, and some that are just precious childhood keepsakes. They are all such sweet reminders of where we’ve been, what we’ve experienced, and people whom we love.
I love this time of year. The coziness, the warmth, the lights, the candles, the smells, the memories, the traditions, and the food. Ah yes, the food. I’ve been having a grand time over the past few weeks playing around with cranberry bread ideas. I’ve come up with this recipe and we love it! It’s the perfect balance of sweet orange with delicious bursts of tart cranberry. It’s a great gift for a friend or neighbor, or it can provide that delightful pop of red color for you Christmas smorgasbord.
Happy baking, my sweet Friends!
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- 1 12 oz bag of whole, fresh, cranberries (~3 cups/350 grams)
- 2 large Eggs
- 1 cup white Sugar (230 grams)
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil (50 grams)
- Juice from 2 Oranges (~ ½ cup)
- Zest from 1 Orange (~1 TBSP)
- 2 cups all-purpose Flour (300 grams)
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- ½ tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 ½ tsp Mekelesha Spice Mix (if you don’t have this mix, you can use the following ground spices: ¼ tsp cloves, ¼ tsp green cardamom, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and ¼ tsp black pepper).
***A note about the cranberries: I baked several different batches experimenting with the cranberry size. A couple friends were my testing buddies, and as it turns out, we all had different preferences:
- My favorite, though it’s more time consuming, is to cut them all in half (it takes me 7 minutes…yes…I timed myself, lol). That way, they are well distributed, but large enough that they provide those delicious bursts of flavor.
- I also tried cutting them up small with a manual food chopper (I used this Zyliss food chopper). It only takes a couple minutes. This method spreads the cranberries throughout the bread, gives it a slight pinkish tint, and it does change the consistency some (it’s a little bit more crumbly). My friend, Molly, is partial to this method because she prefers a more subtle flavor.
- The 3rd approach is to just place the whole cranberries in, unchopped. This is a great way to save time, and you get magnificent pops of flavor. This is Husband’s and my other friend, Nathaniel’s, preference. The only downside I found is that there aren’t as many cranberries per bite.
You pick what you think you’d enjoy the most, or try all 3 methods ?!
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and oil. Beat it until it’s smooth.
Zest one of the oranges (you should have about 1 TBSP or a little more). Add it to the mixture above. Juice both oranges, also adding it to the above mixture. Stir it until it’s well combined. (Side note: you can also just use store-bought orange juice if you choose to).
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat it slightly until it’s lump-free.
Finally, gently fold the cranberries in so they are well distributed. It will be a pretty thick batter, but the cranberries have a fair amount of moisture in them, so it offsets the thicker batter while it bakes.
Pour the mixture into either 2 greased and lightly floured loaf pans or a bundt pan (the bundt is great for the holidays because it creates a wreath-like appearance), and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour, or until you can insert a knife into the middle, and it comes out clean.
Carefully remove the bread from their respective pans, and let it cool on a cooling rack. Serve warm or cold with butter.