pumpkin cranberry bread – perfect holiday bread

How a smell brings back memories…

It seems I’ve made this bread every fall/winter for the past 15 years. I got the recipe from my friend, Sandy Krogh, an accomplished home economist and food stylist and one of my earliest mentors. Sandy and I would travel to various Pardee Homes sites (thanks to Open Line PR in Santa Barbara) and provide demos inside perfectly-built, model homes. Sandy would fill her model with adorable displays of herbs in spice tins, ideas in baked gift-giving. And often the amazing smell of Pumpkin Cranberry Bread and sometimes Potato Soup would waft throughout the house enticing prospective homebuyers to “buy this house!’


photo: Emily Ivey

I would host demos in another model: usually card-making, gift wrapping or a seasonally themed, childrens craft. I valued our times together (often long drives to and from our homes in Orange County) and I learned so much from Sandy (presentation, public speaking, how to make the perfect sunny-side up egg for camera, keeping your workspace clean and how to mend a broken heart…)

cranberry bread by Peilin Breller

photo: Dane Sanders

As I have grown into my own career, I am always quick to credit the AMAZING women who paved the way for the industry of food styling, recipe development and culinary consulting.

Here’s the recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 can (15 ounces) Pumpkin Puree
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice or water
1 cup sweetened dried, fresh or frozen cranberries

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

MIX flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

BAKE for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe makes two loaves.

cranberry bread by Peilin Breller

photo: Dane Sanders

I made some variations this year as I ran out of oil and eggs after a day of prep in my own kitchen. I substituted eggs with 1 tsp. of ground flax seed + 3 tsp. of water and oil with 3/4 cups of non fat vanilla yogurt and cut the sugar by 1/2 because we just found out my mother is pre-diabetic. I also added in Dagoba Chocolate drops: incorporate 1/2 cup to each batter batch just before baking. Happy to report, even with substitution, the bread turned out GREAT.

I served this bread last week @ Meesh’s where we gathered for a pre-Thanksgiving luncheon with homemade cinnamon, vanilla butter.  Meesh and I will save the homemaking butter for another post.  But here’s a quick way to make this butter which will spread perfectly on your freshly baked bread:

Combine the following ingredients together:

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) softened at room temperature

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Bourbon Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup Confectioners Sugar

Mix the ingredients together until smooth!

Sandy baked these little loaves beautifully. And she was always there to greet you with a great big smile, her sprite-style blonde hair and twinkle in her amazing blue eyes. And she made sure the recipe was easy enough to replicate at home. Thanks, Sandy, for the warm, fuzzy memories!

* a super shout-out to our friend (fellow foodie and photographer extraordinaire), Emily Ivey of www.freshivey.com for the awesome pics of our lunch!

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