Holiday Baking: A Fresh Interpretation of a Seasonal Classic

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I’ve been making this loaf successfully for years, so this recipe is time tested and likely to work as well in your kitchen as in mine. This loaf is sweet enough to serve for dessert, but could equally well be part of a holiday brunch. In fact, it tastes so good, no one will realize this a healthier version of a traditional holiday bread. A long, narrow loaf pan (12x4x3”) is ideal, but any very  large or two small-medium loaf pans will do. Yields 15-16 slices. Preheat oven to 350º F. Full recipe after the jump

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CRANBERRY NUT BREAD

Dry ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped, roasted walnuts

3/4 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped

5 oz. fresh cranberries, chopped (about 1 cup) or 1 cup dried cranberries

Wet ingredients:

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup canola oil

zest and juice of 2 large oranges (zest  minced)

3/4 cup (about) water if using fresh berries or 1 cup water for soaking dried cranberries

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the first 5 ingredients. Then mix in the walnuts, raisins and cranberries, coating them with flour so they won’t stick together (walnuts, raisins and cranberries can be pulsed in a food processor, in separate batches).  If using dried cranberries, soak them in 1 cup hot water for 15-20 minutes, then add this to batter only after adding the other wet ingredients in step 3.

2. In a blender, blend the wet ingredients.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir briefly to combine.

4. Pour batter into an oiled loaf pan(s) and bake in the center of a 350º F oven about one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (begin checking for doneness after 50 minutes–larger, wider pans will take more time to bake than smaller, narrower ones).

5. Allow to cool in the pan 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a cooling rack before slicing.  Variation: Bake as muffins, reduce baking time accordingly (begin checking after 25 minutes).

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