I’m not entirely sure if this is a bread or really just a cake that’s been made in a loaf pan. The only reason I’m calling it a ‘bread’ is because it’s made in a loaf pan, but either way, each bite tastes like the holidays (i.e. delicious)!
Dan is lucky enough to have a job that periodically has “snack time”: a block of time carved out for the employees to socialize and eat lovely baked goods and other snacks together. But, the employees are the ones who have to bring the snacks and Dan doesn’t bake. Meaning that when it’s Dan’s turn to bring snacks, I bake. Typically he tells me about this the night before so I scramble to throw something together (invariably, bar cookies due to their speedy, simple preparation) but this time, I knew a whole week in advance! Which meant I had plenty of time to plan something delicious and appropriately holiday themed.
I made my Molasses Cookies which taste wonderfully festive, cinnamony and spicy and soft and chewy. I also made my Chocolate Oatmeal Bars because they’re easy and always a crowd pleaser. But, I wanted to make something else to round out my holiday platter and found this recipe from Faith at The Kitchn, and knew in my heart that it would be perfect. And, according to Dan’s co-workers, it was. Everything I brought got eaten up, and everyone wanted the recipes.
The bread itself is an interesting recipe–a cake/bread concoction that doesn’t have any leavener in it but gets its rise from whipped eggs and sugar. I took her recipe and added some orange zest to compliment the cranberries and it came out perfectly! I wanted to make thinner loaves because I wanted bite-size pieces for Dan’s snack-time, so divided the batter among two regular-size loaf pans and two mini loaf pans, although next time I’ll probably do either four mini loaf pans or two regular ones to make bigger pieces.
Anyways, this makes a lovely, buttery sweet bread/cake with crazy depth of flavor from orange zest, almond extract, and cranberries. It’s perfect for the holidays and I can’t wait to make it again at Christmas!
Junior, on the other hand, is not too excited for Christmas yet. As a crazy dog lady, I insist on dressing him up in adorable Christmas attire but he just doesn’t have it.
Case in point:
Junior the unhappy reindeer. As soon as I put anything on his head, he makes this face. He has a Santa suit that he’ll wear, given enough treats, but as soon as I try the Santa hat, this face comes back. What a silly pup.
The face, again. So much for a cute Christmas card with Junior on it!
Anyways, make this delicious bread/cake concoction and hopefully your dog protests less when you try and put some cute antlers on him. Happy holidays!
makes 2 regular loaves or 4 mini loaves (here, the batter was divided into slightly smaller portions)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed and softened (softened is very important here)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 large orange
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 12 oz bag cranberries
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter either 2 regular loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans. Using a stand mixer with the whip attachment or a hand mixer, blend the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes until very pale yellow and doubled in size, until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage. (Eggs and sugar is said to have reached the ribbon stage if, when you pull up the beaters, the mixture “ribbons” into the bowl, meaning it drips down into the bowl and sits on top for a few seconds before sinking in.) Add the butter, vanilla and almond extracts, and orange zest and blend on medium-high speed for another 2 minutes until the butter is smoothly incorporated. Fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries, folding gently and until everything is just combined in order to not deflate the eggs and sugar. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake for about 45-50 minutes for the regular loaf pans, about 30 minutes for the mini loaf pans. Check the bread after about 30 minutes of baking regardless. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs. Cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and enjoy!
I served this as-is without any topping or glaze, and it was great, but if you’re feeling so inspired, I’m sure any other additions would be welcome!