Finding Thyme to Cook

Thyme is of the Essence

Crazy for Cranberries

Date Cranberry Nut Spice Bread

Adapted from Ina Garten


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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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