Cranberry Pecan Streusel Quick Bread

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, with Christmas right on its heels! Of course, so much energy tends to go into the “big” holiday meals, that sometimes it’s easy to overlook breakfasts and snack time! For these occasions, quick bread makes a great pinch hitter, which I imagine we could all use at this busy time of year. Bake up a loaf to have on hand for an easy breakfast or afternoon snack to offer to any houseguests. Or, if you are headed to someone else’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, this can be a nice addition or change of pace from the usual bottle of wine or dinner pitch-in. Just imagine, if you were hosting a big dinner, wouldn’t it be pretty sweet to have a yummy breakfast treat materialize to go with the gallons of coffee you will probably consume the next morning? I think so. 🙂

This cranberry pecan loaf is festive and sweet, especially with the streusel topping. It’s based on a no-fail buttermilk quick bread recipe from The Kitchn, which can be adapted in hundreds of ways to suit your tastes. For this version, I almost skipped the orange zest, but realized at the last minute that I did have a couple of clementines left from last weekend’s farmers market run, and the zest really did add a nice, fresh complement to the sweetness of the cranberries and streusel.

What are your favorite things to offer guests and hosts during the holidays?

Cranberry Pecan Streusel Quick Bread
Yields 1 9”x5” loaf

For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the bread: 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cranberries (I used dried, but suspect it would be even better with fresh!)
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
zest from 1 orange
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the streusel topping, combine brown sugar, pecans, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork. Add the butter pieces and, using your hands, pinch them into the pecan mixture until only pea-sized portions of butter remain. Store topping in the fridge while you make the bread.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare a standard 9”x5” loaf pan by greasing with butter or nonstick cooking spray.

To make the bread, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, chopped pecans, and orange zest, and stir briefly to incorporate. Separately, in a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Stop just when the flour is incorporated and a shaggy, wet batter comes together; it’s better to have streaks of flour than it is to overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and use your spoon or spatula to help spread it into the corners. Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (You may want to check frequently after the 30 minute mark; if the topping is getting too dark before the bread is done, cover the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil while it finishes baking.)

Let the loaf cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing, slicing, and serving. Baked loaves can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Source: Bread lightly adapted from The Kitchn; topping from Chowhound

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