There are some recipes that I try once and never try again. Then there are recipes like this one, a classic that I turn to time and time again, especially on Thanksgiving rolls around. This particular recipe comes from one of my first books dedicated to baking -- The Best Quick Breads book by Beth Hensperger -- and the page in this book is spattered, spilled-on, and a little (or a lot) worse for wear. To me, that's a sign of a good recipe. To Chris, it's a sign of my carelessness in the kitchen. Luckily he likes me enough to just shake his head when it involves one of my books, and I make an extra effort to be careful with any book that might be considered his instead of mine. (it's not that I'm careless around my books, I try to be careful, but stuff just seems to spatter on them despite my best efforts.)
I have tried several variations on cranberry orange bread or bundt cakes and none of them have come even close to this version. I think the key is putting the cranberries in the food processor. Sure it creates even more dishes to wash, but it also ensures that the tart flavor of the cranberries comes through loud and clear in each and every bite you take. With other recipes I have tried the cranberries were left whole and the there never seemed to be enough of that tart flavor. That has been true for the quick bread I linked to, as well as most cranberry bundt cakes or muffins.
The only real notes for this recipe is that it tends to make a mess of the kitchen -- especially if you use the juice of the oranges you zest for the OJ in the recipe. Other than that it's sometimes difficult to tell when it's done in the middle because the batter is so light in color -- but it is worth it to check thoroughly to get it done all the way through, otherwise the middle of the loaf will collapse like the loaf below. This bread is very good on the first day you make, but it's even better if you let it cool completely and then wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
1 1/2 cups whole fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
grated zest of 2 oranges
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup orange juice
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 8x4 loaf pan.
Combine the cranberries and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely ground.
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and walnuts.
In another large bowl combine the orange juice and eggs and whisk to combine. Add the vanilla extract and zest and whisk again. Stir int he cranberry mixture. Pour over the dry ingredients and drizzle with the melted butter, then fold together until the flour dissapears.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake inthe center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.