Let’s pretend that this bread isn’t spiked with cranberries and toasted walnuts and isn’t made with orange juice or vanilla bean paste. That bread, the one pictured down there, without all the extras, is the one I won third place for last year. I thought I’d kick it up a notch by adding all the things we’re pretending it doesn’t have, sure that would get me at least a 2nd place ribbon…and I got nothing. I got good feedback on my judging paper, but I guess the others this year were still better. Kansas has some pretty excellent bakers!
Now, as for what we thought of this bread (we being me, my husband, and his co-workers), we loved it. No ribbons aside, this bread is fantastic and has a great texture (if I do say so myself). Perfectly sweet, with a nice variation in texture from the chewy cranberries and crunchy nuts. The bread itself is so soft and moist it practically melts in your mouth. A great bread to include in your holiday baking this year!
Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Bread
1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
¾ cup orange juice
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 (15 oz) cans pumpkin puree
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
In a small bowl, combine cranberries and orange juice. Cover and let soak at least one hour before making bread. Meanwhile, place walnuts on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for one minute. Stir with fingers, then continue to microwave for another 1-2 minutes in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until fragrant and toasted. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat oven to 350. Generously butter two 9×5 loaf pans; set aside.
Drain the orange juice into a large mixing bowl and set the soaked cranberries aside. Add the eggs to the orange juice and whisk them until well beaten. Add pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla bean paste. Beat until well mixed. Measure the flour and remaining ingredients into a separate bowl and stir until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in the reserved cranberries and toasted walnuts.
Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove from pans by inverting onto a rack and tapping the bottom.
*Vanilla extract can be substituted for vanilla bean paste.