Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze

Bread, Christmas / Thursday, December 1st, 2011

If you’re a female-type person, and you celebrate Christmas, odds are you’ve baked some sort of cranberry-orange abomination. And chucked it directly into the trash. Because most cranberry-orange recipes look good on paper but taste like you sprayed them with Glade Cran-Orange Hell.

But this Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze tastes exactly how I wanted – sweet and moist, singing with orange sunshine and sweet-tart cranberries. More like a pound cake than a quick bread. The Grand Marnier glaze seeps deep down inside the loaf and crusts a little on top, so you get the slightest sugary crunch when you take a bite, like stepping onto fresh snow.

It’s so good.

It doesn’t need to be warmed or toasted. It doesn’t need a spread.

It’s perfect just the way it is.

The recipe makes two loaves, so you could enjoy one now and freeze the other one for later. Serve it at a holiday brunch. Take it to a potluck. Wrap it in something pretty, and give it to a neighbor. Or, divide the recipe into six mini-loaves, and gift them to six people who are worthy of such awesomeness.

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Grand Marnier Glaze

Adapted from “The Sunset Cookbook”

Makes 2 regular loaves or 6 mini-loaves; 12 servings per large loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (I used sweetened.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 7 to 8 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (Or, use orange juice.)
  1. Preheat oven to 330 degrees F (or 305 degrees F for dark pans). Butter two 6-cup-capacity loaf pans (or, if making the mini loaves, butter six 2-cup-capacity pans).
  2. With an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
  4. Add orange juice, sour cream, orange zest, and vanilla; mix until blended.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add flour mixture and cranberries to wet ingredients, and mix just until dry ingredients are absorbed. (Do not overmix.)
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers of breads comes out clean, 70 to 75 minutes for large loaves and 60 minutes for mini loaves.
  8. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and 7 tablespoons Grand Marnier. (Glaze should have consistency of thick maple syrup or corn syrup. If it is too thick, thin with an additional tablespoon of liqueur.)
  9. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet. With a thin skewer or long toothpick, poke deep holes in tops of loaves. Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze so that it coats the top, runs down the sides, and seeps through the holes.
  10. Let loaves cool completely, then slice and serve, or wrap and freeze. (See Note.)
Note: Loaves can be made up to 1 month ahead and frozen. Bake and glaze loaves and allow them to cool completely. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, put in zip-lock plastic bags, and freeze. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and defrost at room temperature.
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