Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers - Cranberry Orange Apricot Bread

I have been remiss in posting Daring Bakers challenges of late, even though I've made at least two that I could never get written and posted. When I saw this month's challenge however, I knew I had to participate.

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

This bread is one that I've cobbled together from various recipes (starting with a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook) over the years, completely reworking the assembly to the point that I think it's perfect. Your mileage may vary, but I encourage you to incorporate some of these techniques in your quick bread making. They've given me tender, delicious quick breads for many years now.
  • MEP, or mise en place, is critical. Have all of your ingredients ready, including chopping, measuring, melting, heating, etc.
  • Flavors and add ins are critical, because without them, you've made a block of cake in a loaf pan with bits of things every slice or so.
  • DON'T OVERMIX. Really. My technique (I've never seen it in another recipe) is to add your mix ins when your dry ingredients are about half way mixed into the wet ingredients. This way, you don't over mix while you're trying to incorporate the mix ins. Quick bread batter quickly (no pun intended) starts to stiffen the more you mix it, making it harder to thoroughly combine the mix ins.
  • Also to address the mix ins, I mix mine together in a bowl before adding them to the recipe. Again, this makes it easier to have a homogenous loaf instead of one where all the nuts are in one half and the fruit in another.
  • Texture. I address this in a couple of ways. If I'm using a wet fruit, I let it drain on a dish towel before adding it. I try to use a variety of mix ins, including nuts or poppy seeds or oats or something to provide an interesting crunch to break up the monotony of the bread.
  • Short on time? Muffins. A muffin is a mini quick bread.
  • Plan ahead. If you want muffins for your Saturday breakfast, you can make the batter Tuesday night and freeze (well wrapped, of course) in the muffin tin. Set the muffin pan on the counter while you preheat your oven the day you plan to bake. Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
  • I use my food processor for this bread because there's a lot of chopping, and I find frozen cranberries to be the most frustrating thing to chop by far. In this recipe I start with the nuts (if I'm using nuts), then go to the cranberries and finally the dried fruit. No need to wipe out the bowl.
  • Think outside the box, er, recipe. Chopped crystalized ginger goes so well with many fruits (think lemon, orange, cranberry, banana, etc.) Likewise, chocolate will play well with many fruits (orange, raspberry, strawberry, apricot, etc.) 
Cranberry Orange Apricot Bread
Printer-friendly recipe

2 cups/280 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/100 grams sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup/60 grams walnuts
11/4 cups/138 grams cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup/75 grams dried apricots
2/3 cup fresh orange juice (I've used store-bought, and substituted POG)
2 eggs
3 tbsp/42 grams unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp grated orange zest

Grease or coat an 8 x 4½ x 3 inch loaf pan with baking spray. Place oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Weigh or measure the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, whisk until combined, make a well in the center and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the walnuts until coarsely chopped, and empty walnuts into a medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the cranberries, then the apricots, pulsing each individually until coarsely chopped and them transferring to the mixing bowls with the walnuts. Stir the chopped ingredients until they are equally distributed.

In a small mixing bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, add the orange juice, eggs and melted butter, then zest the orange into the wet mixture and combine.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and with a spatula, fold them together until about halfway incorporated, then add the nut and fruit mixture, folding just until combined. Make sure you're getting to the bottom of the bowl with your spatula so you don't have dry pockets of flour.

Transfer batter to the pan and bake on the center rack of the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Wrap in plastic wrap and store for a day or two before serving (I've never done this because it smells too good when it comes out of the oven!)


Ayşe said...

This recipe is going to my recipe-book :) I like it! I will try it as soon as possible.
Take care...

Anonymous said...

I did not know Daring Bakers was still going on. That's so cool. Your loaf looks fantastic. I love the colors and flavoring.

ohkeeka said...

I always make my quick breads as muffins. Mostly because I have no self-control and have a tendency to return to a loaf of bread (and cut increasingly large slices) more often than I should. I had no idea that you could freeze the batter in the muffin tin--this is BRILLIANT! And your Cranberry Orange Apricot bread sounds delicious too--what a great combination of flavors!

Cindy said...

Thanks for putting together this yummy looking bread. I appreciate your hard work on my behalf.
Cranberries are one of my favorite foods. I made a yummy cranberry/orange/walnut muffin for Sunday Brunch.
I also add my add ins with the last portion of flour. Makes it easier to not over mix.
Great tips, thank you Leslie.

Gingered Whisk said...

Looks great! :)

Tracey said...

The colors are so vibrant Leslie - I love the appearance of the bread. I haven't baked with cranberries nearly enough lately, I need to remedy that!

Jaime said...

I love orange cranberry bread! love that this had apricot too!

Cakelaw said...

Yum! The flavours here are amazing Leslie.

Bizzy B. Bakes said...

I appreciate all you suggestions and tips. I am always learning from you. What I like best is how the fruit looks like jewels in the bread.

If you have a moment, would you link this to Bake with Bizzy?

Anonymous said...

Leslie, I always appreciate your tips. Love the ideas for the mix-ins! I always worry about over-mixing quick breads, and your ideas make so much sense.

TeaLady said...

DB made a quick bread?? Maybe I need to jump back on this band wagon. This one looks and sounds delicious.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Your QB looks so good; I cannot tell you how hungry it's making me, especially since I gave it up for Lent.

TeaLady said...

Looks absolutely delicious. Love quick breads.

maybe I should have stayed with DB!!

Aris Whittier said...

I printed this out and am making it right now! Thanks so much! I can't wait to take a bite ;o)