Cranberry Orange Bread with Toasted Pecans

Our neighbors in Maine have given us holiday cookies every year for the last 29ish years without fail. Two of my favorite treats are their twisted shortbread peppermint candy canes and the mini loaf of cranberry orange bread. I've never made cranberry orange bread before; in a season of excess a few slices from the mini loaf satisfied my cravings for the year.

Now that we don't live anywhere near Maine and S likes to take slices of quick-breads for breakfast each morning I had the perfect excuse to try my hand at a slightly more healthy version. It's delicious and I can't stop taking little chunks from the loaf in the freezer every time I crave something sweet.

Cranberry Orange Bread with Toasted Pecans
makes 2 loaves

2 large egg
2 c. sugar
1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 c. fresh orange juice
zest from 2 oranges (~2 T.)
2/3 c. low fat or fat free sour cream
1/4 t. orange extract
1 t. ground orange rind (from the spice rack)
2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
2 c. flour
2 c. whole wheat flour
12 oz. cranberries, chopped (one bag)
1 c. pecans, toasted until aromatic and coarsely chopped

1. With the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add butter, beating well. Add apple sauce, orange juice, zest, extract, rind, and sour cream, mixing well.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture, mixing until just combined. Do not over mix.
3. Fold in cranberries and pecans.
4. Pour into two 9x4 loaf pans.
5. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool in pans for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

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