Sunday Afternoon Gift Baking

A few weeks ago I ran across a recipe for Cranberry Walnut Bread in an online San Francisco Chronicle article and thought it would be the perfect thing to bake for office gifts.  So today, after going to the Farmers’ Market for my weekly fruit and veggie shopping, including oranges and walnuts for the bread, I put on some classical music and started gathering up my ingredients; fresh cranberries, oranges, buttermilk, wheat and unbleached flours, sugar, walnuts and spices. I chopped, measured and mixed and soon I had six little pans ready for the oven.

Thirty-five minutes later I had six beautiful little loaves of bread.

The only modifications I made were to add the zest from one orange and to use Turbanado raw sugar with the spices and nuts for the topping. I like the crunchy texture of the Turbanado sugar. The only thing I would do next time is add more chopped nuts to the topping mixture. I think it would look better.  For those of you who are, or have folks who are, allergic to walnuts I think pecans would be a terrific substitute.

The recipe easily made six mini loaves.

One of the comments on the Chronicle article said this bread was really nice toasted and buttered. Humm, I might just have to try some for breakfast tomorrow since I have one loaf that isn’t marked as a gift.

Did you bake or make gifts this year? If so, what did you make?

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Brandied Cranberries

fresh cranberries

Brandied Cranberries

This is an unusual way to cook your holiday cranberries but I really love the way they look and taste.

1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries

1 ½  cups sugar

1/3  to 1 /2  cup brandy

1 Tablespoons finely shredded orange zest

1.  Preheat oven to 325. Discard any soft or decayed cranberries.

2.  Mix cranberries, sugar, brandy to taste, and orange zest in an 8 or 9-in square baking dish. Bake, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 1/14 hours, stirring occasionally.

Make ahead: Cover and chill.