Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baking Our Way to Christmas - Day 2

Good morning, friends. It's day 2 of the get-us-in-the-spirit bake-a-thon. That's a lot of dashes right there! : ) I hope your Wednesday is boom-shakalacking along or at least clunking or trudging...going in the right direction anyhow. I feel my spirits lifting some with the daily devotional Advent reading and a new recipe on the horizon. I have yet to get out Christmas decorations or even ponder a tree, but at least I'm thinking about it. That's progress in the Spirit department. That reminds me of a high school cheer...we won't go there right now.
So, make yourself a treat like I do every day in the afternoon (that's not a bottle of's Starbuck's sugar-free vanilla syrup for my coffee) and don your apron and start messing up the kitchen!

Here's the scene out my dining room as I baked up today's recipe. Those dots are sheep grazing.

Today's recipe is made from the extra bags of cranberries I purchase in the produce department at the grocery store at Thanksgiving time. Stores don't seem to carry them at other times of the year. It's right off of the package, with a few deviations. These cranberries freeze great. Of course if you have some dried cranberries, I know they would work just as well. And awaaaaayyyyyy we go......

Cranberry Nut Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your pans. This recipe works well as mini loaves, larger loaves (9x5 inch) or muffins. Baking time is the only difference in what size or choice of pan you make. For sharing, I like to use the mini loaf pans. I got 10 "throwaways" that I wash and reuse for $3 on sale. They are about 4-1/2 x 2 inches at the base and flare out at the top. One recipe fills 4 of the pans so I doubled it and made 8 mini loaves.

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs grated orange peel
1 egg, well beaten
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, cooarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped nuts
No mixer needed, just a nice sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, etc. With quick-breads like this, it's important not to over-mix so the batter/dough doesn't get "tough." Put all dry ingredients in a bowl together and mix. Add the orange juice, oil, peel and egg and mix until it's, well... mixed! Fold in the chopped cranberries and nuts until they are dispersed evenly. I fill the pans half-full to two-thirds full.

Using both racks of the oven, I spread the pans out. The top rack loaves will have split tops so if you care about that, do a switcharoo halfway through baking. The recipe calls for baking a normal sized loaf for 55 minutes so I guaged accordingly with these little pans. They took almost that long but I use the toothpick inserted method. You want it to come out with "heavy" crumbs, not wet.

Cool on racks and throw them in the freezer in a bag until you're ready to share. Keep out any rejects for "quality assurance." That's hubby's job is to be my tester. Enjoy the day. Tomorrow we're making either peanut butter balls or homemade caramels.

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