I know, a lot of you are still cleansing and juicing and shunning wheat and sugar. And the cranberry-orange flavour combo is decidedly December. But after a few weeks of hiatus, cranberry-orange loaves make their way back into coffee shop displays. Or do they? Am I remembering the early days of coffee shop-mania when cranberry-orange loaves, muffins and scones were de rigueur? Perhaps flavours, like green tea and pomegranate and chipotle, become trendy like skinny jeans and Uggs, and then fall from glory. If this is the case, cranberry-orange loaves were so 1990s. It was always Mike’s first choice, and I haven’t made a loaf for years. And so I did.
Besides, there’s a foot of snow on the ground and baking is the most pleasant way to warm a house. Bags of fresh cranberries are still cheap as stores try to get rid of their stock, and those ginormous cases of Mandarin oranges still dominate the produce section of the grocery store – does anyone ever finish a box before they go all spongy? I may have hit a new low in my quest to not waste food – I’ve found a use for at least a few of those peels I’ve been picking them up off beds, couches and coffee tables for weeks. Turns out you can – of course – grate the zest of a mandarin or satsuma and add them to your muffins and loaves and cakes. Or blitz it in the food processor with a bowl of sugar, and keep your orange-infused sugar in a glass jar on the shelf – a little brightness in deep midwinter.
Cranberry Mandarin Loaf
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of an orange or a couple mandarins/tangerines/satsumas
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350F
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and zest until fluffy; beat in the egg. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the juice in two. Add the cranberries along with the final addition of flour.
Pour into a buttered 8″x4″ loaf pan and bake for an hour, or until springy to the touch. Cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.