Another item I made this holiday season to include in gift boxes was cranberry-nut bread. I picked up a mini loaf pan recently and thought little mini loaves of this bread would be a great treat. I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated because they never seem to let me down. I did omit the nuts from this bread as I wanted everyone to enjoy it, even those who may have nut allergies. The combination of the cranberries and the orange juice/zest was incredibly fragrant and made the whole house smell amazing. The mini loaves turned out just as cute as I’d hoped they would. I completely forgot to note how long it took for these mini loaves to bake so I apologize. If you decide to make mini loaves just keep an eye on them and test them with a toothpick when they start to become golden.

Cranberry-Nut Bread
from Cook’s Illustrated

1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest from 1 large orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing pan
1 large egg, beaten lightly
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups cranberries (about 6 ounces), chopped coarse
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped coarse (I omitted)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Grease bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan (I used 4 mini loaf pans). Stir together orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in large bowl. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and pecans. Do not overmix.

Scrape batter into loaf pan and spread with rubber spatula into corners of pan. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees; continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving.

Yields one 9-inch loaf or 4 mini loaves.