Over the years Cranberry Quick Bread has become a festive, holiday classic. In fact when I ran Pillsbury’s dessert and baking mix business, Cranberry Quick Bread sales were so important that they were a big part of making our profit goals in November and December. And part of the marketing strategy behind these mixes was to portray them as a fresh, home-baked alternative to scratch baking. But when you take a closer look at what’s really in them, you might want to “beware of the box” and make a REAL, homemade recipe instead.
With ingredients like white flour, white sugar, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate), and emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters of fatty acids, distilled monoglycerides) store-bought quick bread & muffin mixes are filled with highly processed ingredients and lots of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). However, probably the most concerning item on the list is BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), an ingredient used to increase the shelf-life of the highly processed oils used in these mixes. While preventing these oils from going rancid is important, it definitely comes at a cost since BHT has been linked to higher cancer rates in some animal studies. Finally, quick bread mixes often include some dairy ingredients that are typically sourced from dairy cows treated with growth hormones (rBGH) and/or antibiotics.
To avoid all these processed ingredients the best solution I’ve found is to make my own CRAZY GOOD Cranberry Orange Quick Bread recipe. It’s lightly sweetened with honey and some orange juice, and it uses REAL ingredients like whole wheat flour, fresh fruit, butter, and buttermilk. And since it only takes about 10 minutes to whip up, it really isn’t that hard to make!
Ready to give it a try? Then preheat your oven and get out your mixing bowls! Here’s my recipe!
- 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 6 tablespoons stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼ slices, plus extra to grease the loaf pan
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ cup honey
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 orange, zested (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cup chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour large loaf pan.
- In a food processor pulse together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cold butter until it resembles cornmeal.
- Pulse in honey, buttermilk, orange juice, and orange zest.
- Pulse in eggs. Don’t over mix.
- Fold in cranberries and nuts (optional).
- Pour into a prepared pan.
- Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Remove bread from pan and cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
Our cranberry orange quick bread embraces the fact that cranberries are a tart berry—so this bread isn't overly sweet. We believe when cooking with cranberries, you're shooting for some of that tart taste vs. covering it up with a lot of sugar. That said, if you're looking for a truly "sweet" quick bread, add a ¼ cup more honey (or sugar) and increase the bake time slightly. Just remember that whether it's sugar or honey, sweet is sweet and we all should be trying to limit our intake of sugars. =)
I make my own baking powder since so many making baking powders have aluminum in them (in the form of sodium aluminum phosphate and / or aluminum sulfate). It’s very easy to make: two parts cream of tartar and one part baking soda.
I love to share these wonderful quick bread loaves as gifts. What are some of your favorite holiday gifts from your kitchen? Please, share them in the comments below. And if you’re looking for some tools to make this recipe just a little bit easier, check out my Kitchen Tips and Resources below! Finally, if you love the tart, fresh taste of cranberries, check out my next post for Cranberry Orange Crisp Cookies. Yes, the recipe uses some sugar, but an occasional holiday indulgence isn’t bad, right? 🙂
Kitchen Resources and Tips:
- These oven safe paper loaf pans make quick bread gift-giving that much easier!
- If you’re looking for a great bread loaf pan, here are two I love! This one is a heavy gauge steel loaf pan and these are glass!
- Looking to zest your orange without scraping your knuckles? Then check out this wonderful microplane zester/grater. It’s super for zesting citrus or grating cheese, carrots, etc.