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Cranberry walnut bread

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Kendra Nordin/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Cranberry walnut bread is one of those recipes that makes any event more festive.

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Cranberry walnut bread is one of those holiday recipe staples – bring a loaf to a festive gathering, offer as a gift wrapped in aluminum foil with a bow, or just keep on hand for a household overflowing with hungry guests.

I brought this cranberry walnut bread to a carol sing we had this weekend, one of my favorite annual gatherings. My friend’s parents live in one of those rambling old-brick city apartments – it feels more like a house. It even as a working fireplace. In the center of the apartment complex is a courtyard and that’s where we go to sing, holding our caroling books in one hand and a lit candle in the other. Our voices echo off the red bricks and I have to say, we sound quite lovely!

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We always hear from neighbors on the top floors who lean out of their windows to say hello through the darkness and put in their carol requests. (They ignore our requests for figgy pudding, however.) After about a half hour we head inside and settle by the fire.

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This cranberry walnut bread can be made with fresh or dried cranberries. I’ve done both and haven’t noticed much difference. The recipe is from one of my sturdy standbys, “Better Homes and Gardens,” one of those cookbooks that comes in a binder. My parents gave it to me when I moved into my first Boston apartment.

The zest of orange is my favorite part, because cranberries and orange together feel very Christmasy to me somehow. May your Christmas feel warm and cozy. Be sure to belt out some carols. It will feel good.

Cranberry walnut bread
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons orange peel zest (about 1 medium orange)
1 beaten egg
1-2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (or almonds or pecans)
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries (dried or fresh)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch of the sides of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside (I used a 10-inch loaf pan and it was fine). In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and orange zest. Make a well in the center; set aside.

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3. In a medium mixing bowl combine the egg, milk, and cooking oil. Add the egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just till moistened, batter will be lumpy. Fold in nuts and cranberries.

4. Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake for an 1 hour to 1-1/4 hours or until a tester near the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. (But I’ve sliced once it has cooled and it was fine.)

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