These are the two quick breads I serve the most (especially Fall and Winter). Last year we were in the process of moving after Christmas and I forgot to purchase cranberries for my freezer. I am so glad cranberries will be appearing on grocery store shelves soon.
I went to a reception last year, in association with the local youth symphony. I love to see how caterers present their food and at this reception, I found the answer to the household "nut argument". My husband loves nuts in breads, my son hates them.
At this reception, they had made a bread without nuts (I think it was a zucchini bread), slicing it as usual on one plate. On another plate, they had cut the bread into thick slices and then cut those slices into quarters. They buttered these quarters and had dipped the butter side into finely chopped nuts before serving. What a great idea! Same recipe, one plate with nuts and one without...genius. Why hadn't I thought of that? I believe replacing the butter with cream cheese would be nice, too.
The first recipe, Amish Pumpkin Bread, came from Country Woman magazine (somewhere in the 1980s I believe). This is from the diary series written by an Amish farm wife. It always gets raves. It makes two loaves, I usually pour one loaf in the loaf pan and then I add chocolate chips to the remaining batter before pouring it into the other loaf pan. The Cranberry Bread recipe is from Ocean Spray.
Amish Pumpkin Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 C. brown sugar ( usually use 1 C. brown sugar and 1 C. white sugar)
(or replace with 1 1/2 cups of honey)*
1 C. vegetable oil (I use canola or mild olive oil)
4 eggs, beaten
1 lb. can pumpkin (cans are less than 1 lb., just get the closest to 1 lb. you can find)
3 1/2 C. unbleached flour, whole wheat flour or a half-half mixture of the two
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves, ground (optional, I don't oftn use this)
2/3 Cups water (I measure this out first and set it where it can't be forgotten)
1 C. chocolate chips for one loaf, 1-12 oz. package for the entire recipe (see note above)
Chopped nuts can also be added if desired.
Mix sugar, oil and eggs together. Add pumpkin and beat very well. Add dry ingredients, then water, stirring just until mixed.
If adding chocolate chips to entire recipe, add now. If adding to one loaf, pour half of batter into 9 x 5 loaf pan. Add one cup chocolate chips to remaining batter and pour into other loaf pan. Of course, you don't have to add chocolate chips at all but they are delicious.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (check after 45 minutes, though).
*I now use 1 1/2 cups sugar.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 Package cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
4 Cups flour- unbleached, whole wheat or half-half mixture
2 Cups sugar (all white or 1 C. white with 1 C. brown sugar)*
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
1 1/2 Cups orange juice
2 eggs, beaten
1 to 1 1/2 Cups chopped nuts (optional)
Chop cranberries if you have a food processor (they work without being chopped, too). Mix cranberries, nuts and orange peel. Set aside.
In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in shortening. (I usually use oil, which I just mix with the orange juice and eggs before adding to flour mixture.)
Stir in orange juice and eggs, mix just to moisten. Fold in cranberry mixture. Spoon into prepared pan.
Bake 60 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before taking out of pan.
For muffins: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake 25 - 35 minutes.
As with a lot of quick breads, both of these breads taste better the next day but they rarely last that long in our house. They definitely slice easier the second day.
*I now use 1 1/2 cups sugar