Cranberry-Orange Ricotta Bread

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I love a good quick bread recipe as much as the next person. This one was shared by a friend from the past, Nancy. We went to school together from elementary to high school. I never saw her after graduation. I never saw most of the my friends after graduation. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to say in touch. We had a black phone anchored to the wall, with a short cord, and the USPS. Nancy and I reconnected on FB. I’ve discovered she is an incredible baker. I adore her baking postings. She is talented, and oh so creative in all aspects of her life. I’d call her a crafter, but that would be an insult to her artistic abilities! This recipe is one that Nancy recently posted.

With the threat of snow and miserable weather, I printed the recipe and ran to the store. Where I forgot to buy the cranberries. So, I improvised and used dried cranberries. I didn’t want to fight the crowds at two stores, so I skipped the trip to Whole Foods for the “good ricotta”. I deeply regret that decision to this day.  I baked the bread with these substitute ingredients. It came out good. I knew it could be great. The next weekend I found frozen cranberries and my Calabro Ricotta. This time, the bread was fantastic. The quality of ingredients makes a difference!

When I decided to bake this, I started pulling out my hand-mixer. I noticed this recipe was mixed and folded by hand! Are you thinking, what I’m thing? I can make this early in the morning without waking anybody. No? I baked this in 4 mini loaf pans. This is my idea of portion control. Ha! It’s nice to freeze these mini loaves, wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in plastic bags. It makes a great gift if you’re visiting a worthy recipient. Don’t forget to label them. I tend to have a couple of different breads in the freezer. You want to know what you’re handing off to your friends!

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour; divided

1 3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup ricotta cheese; preferably whole milk

1/4 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. grated orange zest

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

 

Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. orange zest

pinch of salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large loaf pan, line with parchment paper. I also like to use 4 mini loaf pans, also using parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, sour cream, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the 1 2/3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Set aside.

Chop the cranberries and toss them with remaining flour. I chop them into quarters, unless the berries are big. I don’t defrost the frozen cranberries. Chopping them frozen is actually easy. Toss the remains 2 tbsp. of flour with cranberries. This helps prevent them from sinking in the pan while the bread is baking.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the oil into the batter, folding from the bottom and up. You want to fold in air. Make sure you get the bottom of the bowl with the spatula.  Mix until it’s all incorporated. Fold in the flour coated cranberries

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean. I’ve been know to use a skewer. Use what you have! If you are using mini loaf pans, reduce the baking time. I start checking at around 30 minutes. They start to get a little golden brown coloring on the tops.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling wrap to cool completely.

To make the glaze, whisk together the ingredients until smooth. Add more juice for a thinner glaze, and more sugar to thicken it up. I like to put the glaze on while the bread is still warm. I put a cookies sheet under the cooling rack to catch the glaze. This makes clean-up easier!  Before you wrap this to store in the fridge or freezer, let the glaze cool and harden. You don’t have to glaze it, but WHY NOT?

NOTE: I have found this bread bakes better in mini-loaves. It’s very dense and it takes a little longer to bake in a loaf pan. They both taste great, but the mini-loaf comes out a little better.

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