The holiday season is fully upon us! Which means I’ll be spending a lot of time in the kitchen in the coming days. Tonight I’m making homemade eggnog (with brandy of course) and tomorrow is all about the baked goods. There will also be lots of holiday music and a fair amount of dancing.
Holiday cooking is, hands down, my favorite kind of cooking.
But there’s one holiday tradition that I’ve never been able to get into – baking cookies. While I love to eat them, I’m not a particularly patient person and cookies require a great deal of patience. There are so many batches to scoop, bake, rotate, cool, and repeat. So I make bread instead.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article for Craftbeer.com about how to throw a craft beer inspired holiday brunch complete with theme ideas and beer pairings. At the bottom of the article is a recipe for cranberry beer bread, a spin on the traditional cranberry quick bread. I created the recipe for the article and it has since become a holiday favorite.
But don’t feel restricted to breakfast! This cranberry beer bread also makes a fabulous addition to the dessert table. Beer and buttermilk create a soft, tender crumb while bright red cranberries lend a pleasant tartness and toasted pecans contribute a bit of crunch. The addition of a sweet beer glaze moves it from bread to confection and the addition of orange zest really makes it pop.
Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together orange zest, buttermilk, ¼ cup beer, vanilla and egg until well combined; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture forms small crumbs (this can also be done in a food processor by pulsing a few times).
Using a rubber spatula, stir the wet mixture into dry mixture until almost fully combined then gently fold in cranberries and nuts.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, rotating once to encourage even cooking. Bread is ready when it turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
While bread cools, make the glaze by whisking together confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, beer and orange zest in a small bowl or measuring cup.
When ready to serve, remove bread from the pan and place on a plate or tray then top with the orange and beer kissed glaze. If there are any leftovers, the prepared bread will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.