Monday, December 17, 2012

A Bag of Cranberries aka Cranberry Apple Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread

A Bag of Cranberries aka Cranberry Apple Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread

(Subtitle:  Baking a Batch of Cranberry-Apple-Pecan-Chocolate-Chip Bread) ((Sub-Subtitle:  Recipe After a Rant))

When I buy a dozen eggs from my farm share, I neither expect to use them all up in a single recipe nor get cranky when I have some left over.  Same with a package of bread.  Or cheese sticks.  Or mushrooms.  Or carrots.  Or pepperoni.  You get the idea.

But a bag of cranberries?  Something that is such a seasonal item, and comes in 1 size only?

I'm just not jiggy with recipes that call for part of a bag of cranberries.  Yes, I know I can freeze cranberries.  In fact, I've got a few bags in my fruit & veg freezer right now.  Fifty cents a bag at Aldi--couldn't pass it up.  They are sitting on top of the bags of blueberries put up during Aldi's 49 cent pint sale in the summer. But this blog is not about Aldi deals, it's about using what you've got.  All of it.

Cranberry Apple Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread | Farm Fresh Feasts

Updated with a photo of a finished loaf!  [I'm still ranting about the inequality of it all, however.]

Because I was in such a hurry to get the finished 'good' loaf to the function, I never took a photo.
Just like recipes that call for 1 cup (8 ounces) of canned pumpkin (sold in 15 ounce cans), it irritates me to have dribs and drabs left over.  Sure there are plenty of things to do with dribs and drabs, but it's not the point. (Notable exception:  I'm happy to open up a can of tomato paste to use in a recipe that only needs 1 Tablespoon.  I happily freeze the remaining contents in 1 Tablespoon mounds on parchment squares, transfer them to a zip top freezer bag, and next time I need a small amount I am set.)

When I open up a bag of cranberries, I want to use the whole thing all at once.  When I make my Apple/Apricot/Beet/Cranberry sauce, I do.  You probably do when you make your own version of cranberry sauce, right?  So why does the bread recipe on the bag of Ocean Spray cranberries, the bag that contains 2+ cups of whole cranberries, call for a mere 1 1/2 cups?

Cranberry Apple Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread | Farm Fresh Feasts

Today, I needed to make a loaf of quick bread for a school function.  I wanted something that would appeal to kids while using up a whole bag of cranberries in the process.  I looked in the crisper and saw some lonely apples, looked in the freezer and saw an open bag of pecan parts, grabbed the chips and got to work.  Come join me!

Yes, it was daytime when I started this venture.  Ignore the shortening, I used oil instead.

Cut 'em in half.  Then in half again.  Then cut out the core. Easy Peasy. Time to feed the pigs.

Prepare the Fruit Base

1 bag cranberries (mine were fresh, frozen is fine)
2 medium apples (I had a Braeburn and a Gala, but I'd love to have a Larry)
1 1/2 cups pecan parts (you're going to chop them, so don't waste $ on pecan halves)

Toss the rinsed cranberries into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to get them started breaking into smaller bits.  Scrape down the bowl.  Core and coarsely chop the apples (mine totalled 2 cups) giving the cores to the composting pigs who will wheek about it and try to steal from each other.  Add the apples to the food processor and pulse a few more times.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pecans.  Chop until everything is fairly uniform in size, but not so far that you get a paste. You should have enough of this mixture for 4 9 x 5 inch loaves plus a bonus batch of muffins (recipe to follow).

If you're doing a large batch of breads for gifts, measure out 1 1/2 cups for each loaf  into a bowl.  Or series of bowls, one per bread, if you're like me and despite my lovely kitchen scale, cannot get even amounts into a series of pans.

If you just want to make just one loaf, for that school function that is still due tonight, say, because you weren't paying close enough attention the first time you made this recipe today and forgot to set the timer and the breads cratered, grab 4 freezer containers, label them, and put 1 1/2 cups in each of 3 of them for the 3 loaves, 1 cup in the final container for the bonus muffins, and take the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mixture for this: 

Cranberry Apple Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread

(adapted from the Ocean Spray bread recipe on the bag)

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I'm loving White Whole Wheat)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's Baking Spice (or cinnamon-nutmeg-etc blend)
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup (180 ml) apple cider
1 1/2 cups chopped cranberry-apple-pecan mixture from above
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a loaf pan (mine was 9x5).  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  I consider orange peel a dry ingredient (unless you're overrun with Band Fruit Fundraiser oranges and have a microplane zester handy).  Because I had a separate bowl dirty from the above fruit food processor foolishness, I whisked up the wet ingredients (oil, egg, cider) in a separate bowl before pouring them into the large bowl.  Stir briefly to combine, then add the fruit mixture.  Stir it a bit more, then add the chips, and give it a final stir.  Transfer to prepared pan, SET THE OVEN TIMER, and bake for 55 minutes.  Don't trust the toothpick trick--I sure don't.

The toothpick came out clean.  Both times.

Cool the bread for 15 minutes in the pan, then flip onto a rack to finish cooling.  Do not feel guilty for eating the chocolate chips stuck to the bottom of the pan.  You deserve them.

This post is linked with What's In The Box and the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!


  1. It's a good rant, yours. I adjust lots of recipes to fit current package sizes. But it's a fool's errand because those 12-ounce bags of cranberries used to be 16-ounce bags of cranberries. Still, I try.

    1. Alanna,
      If only we were downsizing alongside the bags of cranberries, bags of sugar, boxes of cake mix, etc.

  2. I'm not jiggy with partial ingredient use either and maybe even ranted about it once myself way back when. Who me rant? I love the idea for the tomato paste; I almost always end up with part of it going bad or making chili just to use it up. This is great. Thanks!!

    1. Meghan,
      Your rants have given me permission to rant myself--so thank you for that empowerment?!
      I need to make more chili in my life.

  3. Tomato paste is one of my pet peeves, and why I usually buy it a tube. Hot dogs are the same way. I always have leftover hot dog buns I am trying to convince the kids to use for school lunch sandwiches.

    Nice use of the word "jiggy". ;)

    1. I always think I'm not enough of a 'chef' to buy tomato paste in a tube. Plus I usually stock up when I see the little cans in the bashed can area of the store, so tomato paste hangs out in the pantry until I need it.

      My friend asked why I didn't throw hot dogs and buns into this rant--I totally hear you on that one! I've only had success with rolled up slices of ham around a cheese stick in the hot dog bun. And that's not a guaranteed success either. Now I save for panade (must get that recipe up, but start saving for that it's so worth it).


  4. we don't get fresh cranberries... Would love to try some. I'll have to wait til I visit the States... Happy Holidays!

    1. Carole,
      I shared this (well, the cooked parts I saved from the cratered loaves at the bottom) with some ladies from Central America. Trying to describe cranberries was interesting.
      It's funny how some elements of food (rice, for example) can be found in variations all over the world, but some things are just so specific to a region.

      Thanks, and have a wonderful holiday down there!