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Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

This is my favorite Christmas tea bread that I told you I'd be sharing two posts ago.  Better sooner than later, I guess!   I make dozens of loaves of this every holiday season to give to neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.  Below the picture are some shortcuts you can take to speed things along if you're really cranking them out in production.  I also make them in different sizes of loaves -- a big loaf for a family, a tiny one for a single person -- you get the picture.  I also like to use the single-use pans they sell at the supermarket.  Some of them even come with little plastic lids that you pop on after they've cooled, and you don't have the stress of wondering if the loaf will come out of the pan cleanly -- you just leave them in the pan!  If you're really pressed for time, you can just stick on a bow or tie a pretty ribbon around the pan and lid, attach a tag, and you're good to go.  I usually wrap the whole shootin' match in foil (shiny side out) and then tie on the ribbon and tag.  So here we go:

Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

2 Cups gluten-free mix (I usually use the featherlight mix)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 Cup shortening
1 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 Cup orange juice
1 well beaten egg
1 Cup fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup chopped nuts (optional)

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.  Combine the orange peel, orange juice and egg in a separate bowl.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in cranberries and nuts.  Turn into greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size of loaf pans being used.  Cool thoroughly.  Best if wrapped and stored overnight before cutting.

You can double, triple, or even quadruple this batch to make more loaves without any loss of texture or yumminess. 

The loaf pictured is a tiny one, in case you're wondering why the cranberries look so big :).  If you're making a bunch of these, here's some tricks that will save you some time, but won't affect the quality of the loaf:

Rather than grating fresh orange peel, you can buy bottles of dried grated orange peel (in the spice section).  Just add it to the orange juice before you start putting together the dry ingredients so that it can soften and plump up.  Also, for the orange juice, instead of squeezing fresh orange juice, or even reconstituting frozen orange juice, just buy ready-to-go orange juice in the cartons.  I like to get the kind with the most pulp, so that it's most like fresh squeezed.  If you use the chopped nuts, you can buy them chopped up, rather than having to chop them yourself, or if you have whole ones, use a food processor to chop a quantity of them rather than doing it by hand.  Also, they don't have to be chopped real small.  Bigger chunks look more attractive and taste better, and still slice fine once the loaf has cooled.  In the picture is the orange juice I use, the little bottle of dried, grated orange peel, and the little loaf  pans with lids that I mentioned at the top.

For those of you who tolerate wheat -- substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour and leave out the xanthan gum.

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