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Bakery Style Cranberry Orange Bread

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Bakery Style Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry Orange Bread: A Wilson Family Classic

I’m running through the Wilson family’s greatest holiday baking hits in my kitchen, counting down the days until I spend Christmas with my family in Los Angeles. Wait, doesn’t “Wilson Family’s Greatest Holiday Baking Hits” sound like a great idea for a television show? Oh, the butter. Oh, the antics.

Now, while Dad is the chief pie baker and cookie connoisseur, Mom Wilson has some tried-and-true holiday recipe gems, I tell ya. Of course, there’s the classic Mom’s Famous Peanut Butter Balls. But one of my favorite December treats to come from the Wilson oven is my mom and grandmother’s recipe for Cranberry Orange Bread.

By “bread,” I certainly mean “sweet bread,” because this bread is more of a cake baked in a loaf pan. The crumb is tender but sturdy. You could slice a piece, sandwich it in a paper towel, and hand it across the counter without it falling apart, which is certainly the polite and familiar thing to do.

The Perfect Flavor Pairing

The highlight of this bread is the sweet orange flavor accented by bursts of tart fresh cranberries. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and bright, topped with a simple cinnamon crunch. Friends, this bread is a perfect flavor pairing. I especially love a slice lightly toasted and smeared with butter alongside a too-hot cup of coffee. Can you imagine? I know you can.

Bakery-Style Perfection

This cranberry orange bread is a true bakery-style treat, with a dense, moist crumb and a crisp, golden-brown exterior. The key to achieving that coveted bakery-style texture is in the preparation method. Instead of the traditional creaming of butter and sugar, we use a technique called “reverse creaming,” which results in a flakier, more tender final product.

The process is simple: We start by whisking together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then cut in the room-temperature butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. This allows the flour to fully coat the fat, preventing the gluten from developing too much and resulting in a tough, dense texture.

Next, we whisk together the wet ingredients – orange juice, eggs, and vanilla – and pour them into the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in the fresh cranberries, and you’ve got a thick, luscious batter ready for the oven.

The Secret to Bakery-Style Scones

You know, this same reverse-creaming method is the secret to achieving those tall, flaky bakery-style scones that everyone raves about. Baker by Nature has a fantastic recipe that really showcases the technique. The key is to work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until you have a coarse, sandy texture, just like with this cranberry orange bread. And, just like the bread, keeping all your ingredients chilled is crucial for maximum flakiness.

Cranberry Orange Bread: A Holiday Staple

This cranberry orange bread is a true holiday staple in the Wilson household. It’s the kind of treat that’s perfect in the morning with a cup of coffee, a definite afternoon snack, and a really nice sneak-to-the-kitchen-after-dinner bite. It’s an everything sweet bread that also packages nicely for gifting.

And the best part? This baked loaf freezes super well. Just double wrap and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator and toast gently before serving. Mom has it right – this is one holiday baking hit that’s worth keeping in the rotation year after year.

Baking Tips for Cranberry Orange Perfection

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But Joy, I’m not a baker. How can I achieve that bakery-style perfection at home?” Never fear, my friends. I’ve got you covered with a few key tips:

  1. Use Fresh Cranberries: Fresh cranberries are key for that perfect balance of sweet and tart. Dried cranberries just don’t have the same juicy punch.

  2. Keep It Cold: As I mentioned, chilling your ingredients is crucial. Pop that butter in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you start, and keep your other wet ingredients nice and cold, too.

  3. Reverse Cream Like a Pro: Don’t be intimidated by the reverse-creaming method. It’s actually easier than the traditional approach, and the results are worth it.

  4. Don’t Overmix: Once you’ve added the wet ingredients to the dry, mix just until combined. Overmixing can lead to a tough, dense texture.

  5. Crumble On: The cinnamon-sugar crumble topping is optional, but it adds such a lovely crunch that I highly recommend it. Get creative and try adding chopped nuts or even a drizzle of orange glaze.

With these simple tips, you’ll be baking up bakery-style cranberry orange bread that will have your family and friends wondering if you’ve been taking secret lessons from the Wilson family’s master bakers. And who knows, maybe you’ll inspire them to start their own holiday baking dynasty.

So, preheat that oven, gather your ingredients, and let’s get baking! This cranberry orange bread is a true Home Cooking Rocks classic that’s sure to become a new holiday tradition in your household.


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