This is a classic that I have been making for about 300 years – it’s a mainstay both at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Growing up in Rhode Island we had cranberry bread on the Thanksgiving table alongside my Gramma’s Parker House rolls, although now I prefer to eat it for breakfast during the holidays. I love a slice slathered with butter with my coffee at the holidays – it fortifies and comforts me as I plan the day of cooking ahead – which are what my days are all about both this week. The bones of the recipe came from the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry bag – with a few tweaks added over the years. I’ve discovered that buttermilk can substitute for orange juice, that butter is preferable to Crisco, and that you could skip chopping cranberries altoghether and just add them whole – all with equally good results. As for the nuts, they’re optional, and you can use walnuts or pecans. I prefer the stronger flavor of pecans – and of course we grow pecans here in New Mexico so I always have them on hand. I always toast them before I add them to anything – you can chop them and lay them out on a piece of parchment or foil on a cookie sheet – and stick them in the hot oven for 5 minutes before you add them to the batter.
4 C. AP flour
2 C. sugar
1 T. baking powder
2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 ½ C. orange juice OR 1 ½ C. buttermilk
2 T. grated orange peel
½ C. shortening (I use butter or Crisco)
2 eggs, beaten
3 -4 C. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped or pulsed in a food processor ( 3 quick pulses)
1 C. chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a standing mixer or mixing bowl. Add the orange juice, peel, shortening and eggs, and mix until well blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries and nuts. Divide evenly between the loaf pans.
Bake for 40 to 55 minutes depending on your oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 or twenty minutes, then remove loaves from pan and cool completel before wrapping in foil or plastic wrap. You can freeze these loaves for up to a month.