Food & Wine

Quick breads deliver flavor for beginners

Rita Held/Special to the Town Crier
Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread maximizes flavor with minimal effort.

Even if you’re not an avid baker, quick breads are not to be ignored – especially during busy times of year.

They are simple to prepare, yet they usually deliver so much flavor and enjoyment.

In my Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread, crunchy toasted pecans and a splash of orange bitters complement tangy cranberries. If you want to go a bit upscale, try a drizzle of Orange-Laced Frosting for a fancy presentation.

This recipe takes approximately 15 minutes to prepare and then bakes in an hour. It makes roughly 14 slices from one 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan. Each slice – unfrosted – has 225 calories, 3.4 grams of protein and 9.8 grams of fat.

Los Altos resident Rita Held develops recipes for Angostura USA. For more cooking ideas, visit her blog at

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread

• 1 rounded cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (approximately 4.5 ounces)

• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

• 1 large egg

• 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

• 6 tablespoons butter, melted

• 2 tablespoons orange zest

• 1/3 cup orange juice

• 2 teaspoons Angostura orange bitters

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan.

If using frozen cranberries, spread berries out on cutting board and let defrost 10 minutes. Then cut large cranberries in half. To measure flour, spoon into measuring cup and level with knife. Combine flour with remaining dry ingredients in large bowl, blending thoroughly with whisk. Stir in cranberries.

Whisk remaining ingredients in smaller bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir gently until fully moistened – do not overmix. Spoon batter into pan and smooth out top. Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let rest in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before slicing – at least an hour.

Orange-Laced Frosting

• 1.5 cups powdered sugar

• 4 tablespoons butter, softened

• 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)

• 1 tablespoon orange juice

• 1 teaspoon Angostura orange bitters

In medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, stir together ingredients until smooth. If needed, warm up in microwave to soften (medium power for 10-plus seconds). If frosting is too thick, stir in more orange juice, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Drizzle frosting over nut bread. Frosting will firm up a bit once on bread.

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