We’re off to a soirée this afternoon and besides a gift for the Italian Polyanna, we needed to bring an appetizer or dessert. I chose dessert, because, well… I like dessert. I’m the guy who will pass up the entrées and head straight – well, gaily forward – to the dessert table. It’s no great mystery why my first-ever job was in a donut and pastry shop.

And this particular dessert came about because of the things I had in the house. When I decided dessert was the way to go, I looked around to get ideas about what to make. Lo and behold, we had tangerines and cranberries in the ‘fridge and walnuts in the cupboard – there’s always flour and sugar. I thought a twist on a classic cranberry orange bread was in order.

Holiday breads really are easy to make and with just a bit of ingredient adjustments can go from basic to really festive. They can be left plain, topped with powdered sugar, or drizzled with any number of sweet toppings.

I made two of them because I wanted one for the Christmas cookie platter(s) but the recipe can be cut in half or used to make a bunch of mini-loaves.

Cranberry Tangerine Bread

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cubes butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp tangerine zest
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh tangerine juice
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Place in mixing bowl. In a measuring cup whisk together the zest, the juice, Cointreau, and the eggs. Add the mixture to the flour mixture and stir the batter until it is just combined – don’t overmix. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts and spread evenly into two well-buttered 9×5 standard loaf pans.

Bake the bread in the middle of the oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool the bread about 15 minutes in the pan and then remove and cool completely on racks.

Serve plain or top with powdered sugar or icing glaze.

I topped it with a simple mix of tangerine juice and powdered sugar. And talk about filling the house with the scent of Christmas Cheer.

I’m glad I made two!