It’s hard to believe we are two weeks into 2016! I think I’ve have more excitement in the past couple weeks, than my last year combined. Between the highs (engagement!), lows (severe food poisoning), and increased workload, it’s been that much more important to take time for myself and remember to breathe.
Baking is one of my favorite ways to relax and take my mind off the world for a bit. In the one or two hours it takes to follow a recipe, I can focus my efforts on a known outcome. With a great recipe and accurate following, I believe any baker can reliably produce good results.
I want to share a recent technique I’ve learned to take my quick breads to the next level. I absolutely love the combo of orange and cranberry in quick bread. For years, I’ve been making a highly rated version from Allrecipes with the butter creaming method. And since I didn’t know any better, I loved it. It was tasty, moist, and bursting with orange flavor! I couldn’t imagine an improvement, until one day…
I was brining chicken in buttermilk overnight, when I remembered that buttermilk in baked goods produced wonderfully moist results. For some reason, I didn’t use buttermilk in my quick bread though. I decided to change that.
I did some research and found a basic buttermilk quick bread recipe from the kitchn. I added orange juice, zest, cranberry, and chocolate to this base. For kicks, I made a second loaf with the original creamed butter. In a side-by-side tasting, the buttermilk loaf won hands down. The bread rose higher, had a dense sponge texture, and kept its moisture longer. The results were even more pronounced after sitting out for a day.
Visually, you can see a difference. I did initially prefer the crunchy crust on the no-buttermilk loaf, but that was soon forgotten once I tasted the entire slice.
Another nice thing about this recipe is that is it SO forgiving. I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I made a quick homemade substitute. Add 4-1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup total. Stir and wait 15 minutes. Simple as that.
You can substitute dry cranberries for fresh. You can swap out the chocolate for pecans. Go healthy and use melted coconut oil or applesauce instead of melted butter. Leave out the glaze to reduce the sweetness, or go all out and add a pecan streusel. Either way, this delicious recipe produces addictively good bread.
Orange Cranberry Chocolate Bread
For the bread:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
For the orange glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 teaspoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in orange zest, cranberries, and chocolate chips. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter or oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in orange juice. Pour wet mixture into dry, and gently stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 50-60 min in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
5. For the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, orange juice, vanilla extract, and orange zest together. Drizzle over cooled bread.
Bread stays fresh for 2-3 days if kept wrapped at room temperature.