Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

Hey y’all.

I know. It’s been like a month since my last post. I didn’t mean to let this much time go by, but there’s been a lot going on.

Long story short, we made another move. Not as far as the one before, this time only from Norcal to SoCal.

But moving anywhere is tedious, time consuming and stressful. Then after the move comes the ‘settling in’ period to the new place and location.  I meant to set aside some time for blogging during that time, but it didn’t work out that way.

If I’m being perfectly honest, with the way my life and schedule is going to adjust while we we’re here, my blogging and posting might become less frequent. I hope that it doesn’t, but should it come to that I’m still going to aim for doing at least one post a month. Knock on wood.

But anyway, let’s just get to today’s recipe, which is kinda apropos for the subject matter of not having a whole lot of time to get something done, but still wanting/needing for it to be. Quick bread was one of the first things I learned how to bake. It’s a great place to start for someone interested in baking bread who’s still scared of yeast. The reason is written right in the name itself; baking powder and egg takes the place of the leavening agent and cut down on the overall labor and bake time.

Most people’s exposure to quick bread comes through either banana bread or zucchini bread, as those tend to be the most popular. There are endless possibilities to the flavors and ingredients you can use though, some of which I’ve already shared on the blog. Today’s recipe takes one of my favorite flavor combos to bake with in general, and puts it into quick bread.

I was making brinner for us one day and didn’t feel like the added labor of pancakes, waffles or biscuits. I also didn’t have a whole lot of time. My solution was to make a quick bread using some spare ingredients I already had lying around the kitchen.  The cranberry and orange of course go together great, but the almond extract is actually my favorite ingredient in this loaf: it gives that subtle but present ‘bakery flavor’ that just can’t be duplicated any other way. The loaf also isn’t too sweet. I took a piece or two, toasted and smeared them with butter. It’s delicious.

It’s quick, it’s easy, it tastes great. What more do you really need to know?

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Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the dried cranberries and orange zest.

In a small bowl combine the egg with the milk, oil and extracts.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stirring just until combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with white sugar.

Place on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #292, co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

 

Orange Cranberry Star Bread

Apart from my first choice of being an extremely successful full-time writer, I think that my ideal job right now would be a paid internship in a bakery. I’m serious. I think it would be fun, and beneficial to my baking education.

It’s not that I think I’m a shabby baker. I know that I’m not. But as much as I love to bake, I still feel like there’s just so much more that I have to learn.

I’m not huge into food science, but I would very much like to learn about what ingredients and methods make certain bakes turn out the way that they do, and why. Sometimes I’ll have a baking disaster for what appears to be no good reason, even after I’ve followed the recipe down to the letter. It’d be nice to have the know-how to avoid that from happening. I’d also love to train under a baker whose specialty was breads. I’m not too bad at it now, but I’ve seen some UNBELIEVABLE shaped breads that come out of East European bakeries and they make want to get better at my shaping so badly.

Fortunately, today’s recipe features some bread shaping that’s pretty easy to do.

I made my first star bread two years ago for the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas back in 2016. I was thrilled, not only with how it turned out but how easy it was to create such a pretty and delicious loaf. I knew that I was going to want to try it again. Two years later, and here we are on the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas 2018, and I tried it again albeit with some minor changes.

I said back then that there were numerous possibilities for different fillings to experiment with on this bread, including fruit spread. For my second try I decided to take my own advice and put that to the test, where I used the recipe for my favorite cranberry sauce for the filling. I also added orange zest to the dough to give it extra flavor. I’ll be honest; I don’t think the shaping for this year’s star didn’t turn out as well as it did the first time around. It more resembles a snowflake to me than a star, but I do still think it’s a relatively pretty thing to look at. I do know one thing: it’s absolutely delicious.

Aaaaand, alrighty then. I guess that’s a wrap. I’d like to thank each and every one of you who’ve been following along with me for the 12 Days of Christmas series. A lot of work gets put into this and aside from loving to bake, I do also love being able to spread a little bit of holiday cheer on my chunk of webspace. If I can spread some into your homes by encouraging you to try anything I’ve made, it’s even more rewarding. Regardless of what or whether you celebrate or not, I hope you all have a wonderful, delicious holiday. I’ll list all of the recipes made for this years’ series one more time just in case you wanted to check them out. Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

DAY 8: GINGERBREAD CUT OUTS

DAY 9: ROSEMARY & THYME CRACKERS

DAY 10: SUGAR CRUNCH COOKIES

DAY 11: GINGERBREAD SPRITZ COOKIES

DAY 12: ORANGE CRANBERRY STAR BREAD

Cranberry Orange Star Bread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 3/4 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 generous tablespoon of orange zest
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

For Filling

  • About one generous 3/4 cup of your favorite cranberry sauce recipe, or any jam you like

Directions

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, orange zest, nonfat dry milk, potato flour or instant potato flakes and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the water and yeast. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes, until frothy.

Using the whisk attachment mix in the butter. Switch to the dough attachment and gradually fold in the flour mixture, kneading until a smooth dough forms, about 10-12 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Allow to rest for 1– 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Cut dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover them and let rest for 15 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of the dough into a 10 inch circle. Place this circle on a piece of parchment and use a spatula to spread approximately 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce or jam on top of the dough. Spread it evenly and don’t lay it on too thick, leaving about 1 inch “jam-less” along the outside edge. Set the parchment nearby.

Take a second piece of the dough and repeat the process, placing on top of the completed disc. Repeat with the others, LEAVING THE TOP DISC BARE.

Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.

Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.

Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter.

Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #255, co-hosted by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Cranberry Orange Rolls

Tell me some of the traditions you or your family had when you grew up. How about some of the traditions that you have now?

I think that my love for Christmas started because of all the traditions that we had while I was growing up. I enjoyed those traditions and the way that they made me feel, and it created this huge nostalgia for the holidays that lasts to this day.

In elementary school, I remember the traditions that happened on the last day before our Winter Break. Classes ended early and for the latter half of the day, the school would turn into a ‘holiday carnival’ of sorts. Each classroom would turn into a fun activity for us to do until was time to go home. One room had games, one room had holiday movies playing on a television, one room was for making Christmas ornaments, another was for decorating Christmas cookies, and so on.

My mom and my sisters and I had a tradition of driving around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve night and looking at other house’s lights and decorations that they put up.

Now that I’m grown I have several holiday traditions of my own. We try to put up our Christmas tree within the first couple of weeks of November, which is also when I dust off my holiday playlist. There is a list of holiday movies that we watch all throughout the month of December. And of course, I do the 12 Days of Christmas here on the blog.

I’ve heard about a lot of families that have a tradition of eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. We don’t, but it’s a holiday tradition that I can definitely get behind.

My sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls (insert eyeroll emoji), so whenever I get the craving for breakfast rolls, I have to get a bit creative and make something that she’ll like. These Honey Sausage Rolls were a hit. These Orange Rolls were a HUGE hit.

And then came today’s rolls.

I don’t know who it was who first came up with the flavor combination of cranberry and citrus, but whoever they are, they were a genius who truly gave us a Christmas miracle. It has truly never, EVER let me down. These were so delicious. Where do I even begin?

The dough itself is flavored with vanilla, orange zest and juice. The powdered milk and instant potato flakes are there to improve the overall texture of the finished product–it gives the rolls a chewy, but light richness.

The filling is both tart and slightly sweet thanks to the combination of cranberry and orange juice. I think it gives a great, fresh balance of flavor to the icing that gets slathered on top of the rolls while they’re still warm.

As you can see, this recipe makes a modest sized bunch. If you’re baking for a crowd, you may want to consider doubling it. You may want to consider doubling it even if you’re not baking for a crowd. I wish that I had.

We’re over halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas already! Check out the other posted recipes if you haven’t already:

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

DAY 5: GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOWS

DAY 6: HOLIDAY SPICE S’MORES

DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS

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Cranberry Orange Rolls

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry powdered milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour, or dry instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

*A heaping 3/4 cup of leftover cranberry sauce will work in lieu of the filling as well. This is my go-to favorite recipe.

For Icing

  • About 1 1/2 cups powdered
  • A few tablespoons orange juice

Directions

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl, pour the water, sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy. In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the dry milk and potato flour and stir with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, pour the proofed yeast, the orange zest and juice, the butter, vanilla extract and salt. Use the paddle attachment to stir together. Switch to the dough hook and add the dry ingredients in increments. When the dough starts to gather around the hook, remove from the bowl, turn out onto a clean work surface, and use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if need be until a smooth dough is formed. (The dough should spring back when you press your finger into it.)

Grease the inside of the mixing bowl, place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in a warm place, about 65 minutes.

To make the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients except the melted butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Set aside to cool.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour and gently deflate. Roll/pat it into a 16 x 12 rectangle.

Spread the filling out onto the dough. Roll up into a log tightly, pinching the seams closed to seal. Cut the log into 9 slices. and place the slices into your prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and your damp kitchen cloth. Allow to proof for an additional 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the proofed rolls with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown in the center (an instant read thermometer should read 195-200F), 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if they’re browning too quickly.

To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar with just enough OJ to make a smooth glaze. After the rolls have cooled for about 7-8 minutes, Spread the icing over the rolls while they are still warm so that the icing can seep into the crevices of the rolls. Keep any leftovers in a sealed plastic container in the fridge.

I’ll be sharing these at this week’s Fiesta Friday #254, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Kat @ Kat’s 9 Lives.

Cranberry Buckle

Have you ever cooked or baked something that was really really good, but needed to come with an explanation?

I was looking over the Recipe Index of this blog and realized that I do that pretty often, actually. I’ll announce that I’m making something to my family and the response will be, “Huh?” or “What’s that?”

The conversations usually go something like this:

Me: “I’m making Shakshuka and naan for dinner.”

Family: “What’s Shakshuka?”

Me: “It’s kinda like a tomato sauce, except you put cumin, eggs and ground beef in it. The naan is the dipping bread that goes along with it.”

Family: “…..Um.”

Me: “Look, just don’t worry about it. I know what I’m doing, and it’s going to be fantastic, trust me!”

Occasionally it may be a miss, but 9 times out of 10, I’m usually right and the recipe that needed an explanation was still delicious.

Today I’m sharing another one of those recipes that I had to give an explanation for. Unless you’re a baker or someone who bakes with fruit pretty often, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people will know exactly what you’re talking about when you announce that you’re going to bake a buckle. They may have a vague idea, but if you had to differentiate it from say, a cobbler, grunt or pandowdy, they probably won’t know.

The closest comparison that I can give to a buckle is a coffee cake. This coffee cake batter has a lot of fruit in it–like, a lot. There’s actually more fruit than batter. The batter’s function is to absorb the fruit and hold it all together like a cake-like sponge. The cake does rise thanks to leavening agents, but the amount of fruit in the batter does weigh it down. There’s also a streusel topping that gets sprinkled on top of the batter before baking. After baking, the bumpy uneven surface of that streusel looks ‘buckled’–hence the name.

Most buckles are made with blueberries, but because this was for the 12 Days of Christmas, I decided to make mine with cranberries, which I find more festive (and tasty). It came together in literally minutes.

You may be tempted to reign it in when it’s time to add in the cranberries. I was. Three cups is a lot, especially for such a small pan of cake and a batter that is thick. But, listen: we’ve already been through this. The primary function of the batter is to just hold the fruit together. The more fruit that is in this, the better it’s going to turn out. Trust me. Add the whole three cups. Just do it.

Same thing with that streusel: it may seem like it’s too much when you’re mixing it together. It’s not. It’s just enough. Dump it all on top of the batter. The whole she-bang. You will thank me later.

We loved this so much. I had originally intended to send it to an office to share, but upon sampling it, the Family made an executive decision that we were no longer interested in sharing, and that the Cranberry buckle would be staying right here at home with us. Once you bake this, you’ll understand why.

Don’t forget to check out the other recipes from the 12 Days of Christmas series if you haven’t already:

DAY 1: VANILLA RED PINWHEELS

DAY 2: CHRISTMAS ELF BITES

DAY 3: THREE FRENCH HEN PIES

DAY 4: CRANBERRY BUCKLE

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Cranberry Buckle

Recipe Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (plus more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes.

Directions

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl use a wire whisk or a fork to combine the flour with the baking powder, salt, and ginger and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one), cream together the butter and the sugar until it’s creamy. Add the egg and stir just until combined.

Pour the vanilla and milk together in a small cup.

Add the flour and the milk to the batter alternately in batches, starting and ending with the flour. (This batter is supposed to be thick, but if it’s too thick to spread in the pan and/or too crumbly, you can add in a few tablespoons of milk–just enough to make it smooth enough to spread.)

Use a spatula to fold in the cranberries. Spread the batter into the baking dish and place the baking dish on a sheet tray.

For the streusel: combine the flour, sugar and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Use the tines of a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it looks like course breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on top of the batter in the pan.

Bake until golden brown and puffed up in the middle, 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #253: co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons and Mila @ Milkandbun.

Cranberry Spice Layer Cake

I’ve made a pretty wide variety of sweets for the 12 Days of Christmas series but when I was still in the planning stages for this year’s, I knew that there was one thing I wanted to make that I haven’t yet: a Christmas-themed/flavored layer cake.

Layer cakes are a project but I find them worthwhile projects for a few reasons. First, they can feed a lot of people. Second, they make great showpieces. Third, they’re a good opportunity for a baker to create different layers of flavor (pun kinda intended) all in one dessert.

My first thought was to maybe do a gingerbread layer cake, but ultimately, I veered away from it. There’s a very narrow difference between what’s really just gingerbread and an actual spice cake. I do think that I can find the sweet spot in that difference but maybe next year. This year I went with something that I knew I could nail in terms of getting those fresh, festive flavors that were undeniably for Christmas. There are three components to the cake, and they’re all pretty easy to make: the sponge, the frosting and the sugared cranberries.

The cake batter itself is flavored with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, which makes it hit all the warm notes of Christmas spices. If you can get your hands on vanilla bean paste, please do and use it. You’d be surprised the superior taste of it in comparison to regular vanilla extract. My favorite part of it though is the inclusion of whole cranberries that I folded into the batter. While baking, they kinda explode and their juices then bleed, giving the sugary spice cake a pleasant pop of tart sweetness.

The frosting has a cream cheese base, both to offset the sweetness of the cake and the orange juice and zest that goes inside. It’s still sweet, but has just enough of a tang from the cream cheese to where the sweetness isn’t overwhelming. Also, yes, there does call for four layers to be baked of the cake itself in the recipe. I can explain that. I left the fourth layer off first because I thought it was a bit overkill(most people struggle to finish a slice of a three layer cake themselves alone), and second because I wanted to make sure that I had enough frosting to cover the three. I did, but just enough. The fourth layer we had plain and actually discovered that it made a delicious dessert even without the frosting. You can eat your fourth layer plain, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze it for later, or cube and use it make trifle or cake truffles.

I’ve never made a layer cake and left it ‘naked’ before, but I’ve also never made sugared cranberries before and I have to say I think they give the cake a neat but festive decoration even without extra piped frosting and sprinkles, which is usually how I choose to decorate my layer cakes. As delicious as the frosting is, the cake really doesn’t need the extra amount of it. It’s a fantastic bite that manages to deliver on so many different flavors at once. You get the freshness from the citrus, the warm undertones from the spices, the tartness from the cranberries, and the tang from the cream cheese.

I just love everything about this cake and if you choose to make it apart of your Christmas dinner, I think you’ll see why.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #202, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Day 4: Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Day 5: Honey Spice Madeleines

Day 6: Chai Spice Shortbread

Day 7: Winter Spice Peanut Brittle

Day 8: Christmas Tourtiere

Day 9: Cranberry Spice Layer Cake

Cranberry Spice Layer Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living & Taste of Home

Print

Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2- 3 cups fresh cranberries, tossed with about 1 tablespoon of flour

For Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange peel

For Sugared Cranberries

  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

Directions

For Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour four 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, ginger and nutmeg. Stir with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the buttermilk with the vanilla bean paste/extract and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer (or a handheld one) cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients to the butter mixture with the wet ingredients. Start and end with the flour mixture, and make sure you use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.  Fold in the cranberries.

Evenly divide the batter between the four prepared pans. Lift each one up a little and allow to tap down on counter top (this will help prevent air bubbles). Bake for 20-22 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (layer cakes are done at about 190°F). Set on wire racks to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out of pans and allowing to cool completely.

For Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat butter together with cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in 1 cup increments, scraping down the side of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the orange juice, vanilla and orange peel, mixing just until blended.

For Sugar Cranberries: Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, then pour over fresh cranberries. Allow to cool for one hour, then drain. Roll cranberries in white sugar, then set on wax paper to dry for 4 hours.

For Assembly:  Level the tops of each cake. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter. Spread a little over 1/3 cup of frosting over layer. Top with another cake layer and repeat process. Top with final cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake until it form a translucent layer over it. (You’ll still be able to see the cake sides). Refrigerate cake for about 1 hour to allow frosting to set. Top with the sugared cranberries. Remove the parchment strips just before serving.

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

I’ll be completely honest with y’all: I have no idea what canned cranberry sauce tastes like. I’ve never tried it before in my life. Growing up, I would always see it on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas but there was something about the mere sight of the stiff sliced rings that was off-putting to me. Why would it be called a ‘sauce’ when it resembled thin beets (which, I’ve never liked)? Plus, back then I thought it made no sense to want to eat something sweet with something as savory as turkey and dressing.

Nowadays I DO think it makes sense to eat cranberry sauce with turkey and dressing–I actually think it’s delicious…just so long as it’s homemade. Ever since I started making my own cranberry sauce it spurred a love for ALL things cranberry, specifically in baking.

I still had some fresh cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving that I kept in the freezer and I knew that I wanted to try and do something with them for the 12 Days of Christmas series. My niece’s preschool was let out for Winter Break this past week and I wanted to make her teacher a small gift of appreciation. So, she and I made this loaf together. She’s becomes quite the good little sous chef/baker.

The first breads that I made when I was starting out baking were quick breads. They’re very easy to put together, involve no work with yeast, kneading, proofing, and are pretty hard to mess up. They store and ship well too, which makes them ideal for gift-giving at this time of year.

Cranberries and oranges are an ideal flavor combination. The sweet of the orange balances out the tart of the cranberry and vice versa. Here, the fresh cranberries are paired with both orange zest and juice. I also added a cinnamon swirl to the batter that gives it more of a ‘wintery spice flavor’. You may have noticed that I also really like adding icings to things, so there’s one of those here too. You can leave it out if you like, the bread is yummy enough all on its own to do without.

Quick bread is great all on its own alongside coffee or tea. It’s also sturdy enough to make awesome french toast and bread pudding. Do whatever you want with it, really. Just make & try it. I’m gonna go ahead and share this at the Fiesta Friday #201, co-hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. 

Stay tuned for more recipes in the 12 Days of Christmas series, I’m really hyped to share what’s to come.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Day 4: Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries 

For Topping

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 heaping teaspoons butter

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

 

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon with a whisk.

Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg and vanilla. Fold in the cranberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Cut the butter into the mixture, leaving it in small clumps. Sprinkle on top of the loaf. Use a knife to swirl through the top and through the middle of the loaf.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Allow to cool inside pan for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine the powdered sugar with the milk and stir until it forms a thickened glaze. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle over the top of the loaf. Allow to set for about an hour until hardened.

Crustless Cranberry Pie

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It’s Day 5 of the 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog- and 9 days left until Christmas. I have no idea how this has happened. The only ‘negative’ aspect of Christmas for me is that it’s over way too soon. And then after that, there’s just January….and the long endless winter.

So let’s not think about that right now. Let’s focus on something else.

I’ve never had the opportunity to host a holiday party. For one thing, I live in an apartment which isn’t the ideal amount of space for something like that. For another, I’m an introvert- so my guest list for a party would be almost laughably small. But that’s only the reality of the situation. If I were speaking in ideal hypotheticals, the situation would be completely different.

In an ideal, hypothetical situation I would live in a beautiful, spacious house with a huge kitchen and adjoining dining room with a long table for lots of guests. And not just any guests either. For my ideal Christmas party, I’d have a specific list of VIPs that I would both love to hang out with and love to cook for:

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1. President Barack Obama & his wife, Michelle- this one’s a no brainer. Who wouldn’t love to cook for the leader of their country? Plus there’s just a lot of questions I’d love to pick his and her brains over.

2. Pastor Joseph Prince- Joseph Prince is a pastor from a mega-church in Singapore; I adore his ministry and message and try to buy everything of his that I can get my hands on. He has a fresh, empowering perspective of the Christian faith that is truly inspiring. He’d be a great guest to have at my Christmas party to talk with, as well as have the honor to feed.

3. Sunny Anderson- Sunny is a famous Food Network personality. I LOVE her style of cooking; it’s delicious but not too fancy at the same time, so I wouldn’t be intimidated to have her eat my food. And if something did happen to ‘go wrong’ in the kitchen, she could be there to step in and save the day if need be. Plus, her name really does seem to match her disposition so I think she’d bring a lot of life to a dinner party.

4. Robert Downey Jr.- Number one: he’s eye candy. But number two, he also has a really wry sense of humor that I just love. Everything that comes out of this guy’s mouth is really witty and I have a serious weakness for men that can make me laugh. Playing a game of Charades in a group with RDJ would pretty much be the highlight of a Christmas party, I’m pretty sure.

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5. Steve Carrell (as Michael Scott from “The Office”)- I’m really not sure how I would pull this one off. Maybe in an ideal situation I could offer Steve a specific amount of money to stay in character for the whole night, but I know for sure that hosting a party with Michael Scott would truly be an unforgettably awesome (however crazy) experience.

6. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler- Again, this for obvious humor purposes. And, they have to come together as a package deal. No compromise on that.

7. Dianne Reeves- Dianne is one of my all time favorite jazz vocalists. Her voice is like liquid gold in my ears; she would provide the perfect entertainment for the party.

8. Harry Connick Jr.-Eye candy. To the nth degree. Add to all that his flawless voice, and he’s a shoe in for the party. He and Dianne serenading the party with “The Christmas Song” would bring the house down.

9. General Colin Powell-  Although his political choices didn’t always agree with mine, I will still always have a great deal of respect for this man. His impressive, extensive military service record alone makes him a guest that would be an honor to serve a Christmas dinner to, but I also think he’d be a great guy to have a conversation with about life in general (no pun intended).

10. Angelina Jolie- There’s really no deep, meaningful reason for why I would invite her to a Christmas party. For some reason, I’ve just always really liked her. Apart from being a phenomenal actress, I think she’s someone I’d get along with and could hold a pretty long conversation with about things. And I suppose she could bring Brad and their kids too.

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I’d definitely have multiple desserts at what would now be a very crowded Christmas party, and this ‘pie’ would certainly be one of them. As you can probably tell, it isn’t a pie in the classic sense of what most of us identify with as pie. But it’s also not really a cake either. Here’s the thing: while it’s baking, the bottom and edges become browned and chewy to the point of forming a crunchy kind of ‘crust’ that contrasts perfectly with the soft and moist center. The cranberries give it a tartness that is well balanced with the sweetness of the sugar and almond extract. Add to that the fact that this dessert takes literally about 5 minutes to put together, and you’ve got a real winner on your hands here.

Just as a reminder, if you’ve missed the other recipes we’ve done so far in the series, I’m including a list of links to them below. Thanks for continuing to tune into the series, guys! Also, if you’ve left a comment on any of these recipes and I haven’t replied to it yet, PLEASE don’t think I’m ignoring it. I’m not. I do REALLY appreciate it. The truth is, trying to put up 12 quality consecutive blog posts is no easy work. Most  of my spare time right now is being spent, baking, taking pictures, doing minor touch ups to  the pictures, and writing out the recipes and blog posts. It’s hard (and sometimes stressful) work. I WILL get to all of the comments, I promise. Just be patient with me 🙂

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Cranberry-Clementine Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Honey Roasted Peanut Popcorn Balls

Day 3: Mexican Chocolate Popcorn Balls

Day 4: Giant Molasses Cookies

Day 5: Crustless Cranberry Pie

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Crustless Cranberry Pie

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Grease one 9 inch pie pan.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts, and toss to coat. Stir in the butter, beaten eggs, and almond extract. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.