Finding Thyme to Cook

Thyme is of the Essence

Crazy for Cranberries

Date Cranberry Nut Spice Bread

Adapted from Ina Garten

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So I get ready to make this “Date Nut Spice Bread” after making sure I had all the ingredients and wouldn’t you know it, I pulled out the “dates” and they were prunes.  Hmm, I wonder how they transformed into prunes?    This wasn’t that first time I grabbed the wrong ingredient at the market in haste.   I considered making it with prunes (for a half a second), but “Prune Nut Spice Bread” just doesn’t have a good ring to it.  I quickly grabbed the dried cranberries to use as a substitute, and it was PERFECT!!!  Maybe it is better than with dates?   The only way to find out is next time I will make it using dates to compare.  I am partial to the tartness of cranberries so I was happy with the mistake.

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Cointreau or Triple Sec)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Cream Cheese spread:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the bottom of an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pan.

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Combine the cranberries and orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for 1 minute.

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Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla, and orange zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.  I like to sift dry ingredients on wax paper, because it is easy to add to the mixer.

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With the mixer still on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating only until combined.

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By hand, stir in the cranberries with their liquid, and the pecans.

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Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

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Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

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Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until just combined.

Slice the bread . . . and cranberrybread14

and spread with orange cream cheese or serve on the side.

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