A good alternative to raiding grocery store shelves for things one may not ordinarily buy in bulk but that are imperative to have on-hand during a weather semi-emergency – bottled water, bagged bread, peanut butter, hot dogs (maybe, maybe not), big clear plastic gallons of milk – is to host a baking marathon. Attendees: the baker, a TV show or movie that requires only intermittent attention to follow the plot line (say, Con Air with commercial breaks, or Burn Notice, or Best in Show — but only if you’ve seen it a few times already), and maybe someone to eat up all the finished products. Should this storm really ratchet up, I might regret buying pastry flour, sticks of butter, and lemons instead of edible staples. Ice cream somehow found its way into the grocery bag too, so if the power goes out, please join us for a freezer par-tay. All joking aside, with lots of family and friends living up and down the coast, we’re hoping for a quick turnaround and a lesser impact than what is predicted for this storm that just so happens to share my opposite-of-destructive mother’s name.
Thanks to a few episodes of season 3 of Nikita, we’ve got a loaf of pecan and cranberry-studded bread cooling next to a pear and apple crisp that also is…cranberry-studded. Nikita herself probably doesn’t eat anything baked, or anything with fat, salt, or sugar for that matter, but she might be enticed to chow down on a slice of this bread before she heads off to ride motorcycles and karate-chop bad guys. It’s got the texture of a good banana bread with a slightly crunchy top due to a sprinkling of sugar, and the usual blah-blah-blah about how the tartness of the cranberries nicely offsets the sweetness of the bread. They really do, though. As soon as I can get my hands on more fresh cranberries, I’m making this again.
Cranberry Pecan Bread
(Very slightly adapted from Martha Stewards recipe found here)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
12 ounces fresh cranberries (if buying in the store, 1 bag is typically 12 oz.)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for topping (I used regular sugar)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a loaf pan (I use coconut oil spray, but Martha says butter and flour, and she is Martha).
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, egg, milk, and extracts. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until just combined, then fold in cranberries and pecans.
Pour batter into your loaf pan; sprinkle top with turbinado sugar if desired.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack; let bread cool 30 minutes. Invert onto rack, then immediately turn right side up to cool completely.