It there’s a woman who knows her baking, it’s Veronica. I know I’ve raved about her before, but she’s worth raving about. From her Buttery Beer Bread to her Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to this lovely Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Bread, her recipes are tried-and-true. So this morning we’re going to make two fabulous, moist, nutty, sweet-but-not-too-sweet loaves of bread (original recipe here).
(Makes 2 loaves)
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup orange juice
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 (15 oz) cans pumpkin puree
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 TBS vanilla bean paste or extract
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp allspice
Roughly chop the dried cranberries and put them in a small bowl.
Soak them in the orange juice for 1 hour.
Now! If you have big walnut pieces, give ’em a little crush-crush with the heel of your hand, just to break them up a little.
After you’ve exerted yourself in this fashion, please take a little drink of red wine. You’ve earned it. Unless you’re making this in the a.m., in which case stick to the coffee.
Spread the walnuts on a microwave-safe plate . . .
. . . and microwave them in 30 second increments (for about 2 minutes total), stirring them with your fingers in between bursts, until they’re toasted and fragrant.
I dearly hope no one’s allergic to these babies, because they add such a fabulous dimension to the bread.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter (or spray with baking spray) two 9×5 loaf pans.
Drain the orange juice from the cranberries into the bowl of a stand mixer–but keep the cranberries aside for now.
Add the eggs to the juice, and whisk ’em until they’re well beaten.
Add the pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla to the eggs/OJ.
Beat until well mixed, scraping down the bowl with a spatula if needed.
Combine the flour and remaining ingredients (all dry stuff) in a bowl.
Stir it all around until it’s combined. I like to use my fingers to feel for any clumps and break them up.
Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture little by little, beating until smooth.
Gorgeous! Now stir the cranberries and walnuts into the batter.
That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Divide the batter between the two pans . . .
. . . and bake for 65-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
At this point, I had severely miscalculated how long this would take to make (I kinda forgot about the hour-long cranberry soaking) so I was in bed, waiting for the sound of the timer to get my butt back outta bed and remove the loaves from the oven.
And of course, for some mysterious reason my loaves kept coming up raw and batter-a-licious in the middle.
They had to go for more like 85 minutes. Maybe even 90–I was too sleepy to keep track.
Cool the loaves for 10-15 minutes, then remove them from the pans. Let them finish cooling on a wire rack.
Around 11:30 pm my loaves were finally cooling on the rack. Of course, then I started worrying that if I left them out all night, they would dry out and go stale on me before their time.
So I decided to trust my habit of waking up to pee in the middle of the night, at which point I decided I’d scurry out to the kitcen to wrap the fully cooled loaves in aluminum foil for safe storage.
And that’s exactly what happened. It was a midnight baking adventure.
The next day I got around to taking pictures of the loaves, buttering a piece, and (last but not least) taking a bite . . . and oh man.
Pumpkin cranberry walnutty bliss!
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