There is something about the pairing of orange zest, cranberries and almond extract that I just love. It is probably, besides chocolate and peanut butter, my favorite ingredient combination. And it's seasonless—just as appropriate in the spring as it is at Christmas time.
That's why I created this decadent sweet bread recipe. The almond meal makes it very soft and moist, the orange zest and dried cranberries give you a tart surprise, and the gooey drizzle on top sweetens it up. It is perfection in your mouth and goes deliciously with a cup of coffee or orange spice tea.
And did I mention it's easy. This is not hard stuff. If you aren't gluten-free, replace the flour with your own—just make sure to keep the almond meal. And if you aren't vegan, replace the vegan butter with a local variety and the flaxseed meal mixture with two local, happy farm eggs. But if you are looking for a healthier and more compassionate option (and I am not saying this is a healthy recipe), give my exact recipe a try. Your heart, animals and the environment will thank you.
Speaking of flaxseed meal egg substitutes, get that going first. I like to let mine sit for 5 to 10 minutes to completely gel and thicken.
Next, mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Use a fork to mix and aerate the mixture. It seems silly, but it really makes a difference to do this with gluten-free flour as it gives the finished product some height.
In your stand-up mixer, blend all your wet ingredients, including your flaxseed meal mixture. Keep in mind, if you don't like almond extract you can simple swap it out with a teaspoon of it's mellower cousin, vanilla extract.
If you don't own a microzester and you like to eat raw, bake or make vinaigrettes often, I would suggest you invest the $20 in one. It makes zesting an orange, lemon or lime a breeze and keeps the pith part where it belongs, on the fruit.
Slowly sweep in the dry ingredients using the back of your hand to brush it into the mixer on low speed. Make sure not to overmix, so as soon as all the dry is incorporated, turn it off and use a spatula to hand stir in the cranberries.
Fold into your parchment lined bread pan and place in the preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
Once you pull the bread out of the oven, start on the orange glaze. It is important to sift your confectioners sugar, especially if you are using an organic, vegan variety, which tends to be lumpy. Once you have sifted a cup of powdered sugar, start adding the orange juice and whisk until it comes to a thick, yet drizzleable (just made that word up) consistency. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, and then drizzle on your orange juice glaze. Let that cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, before cutting.
This loaf serves 8, but I'm guessing you aren't going to want to share it. The flavors are spot on and you will never guess it is gluten-free and vegan. Enjoy! xoxo
Time: 30 minutes prep, 1 hour 10 minutes to bake
1 1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour blend (I like Cup4Cup here)
1/2 c. almond meal
3/4 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
Flaxseed meal eggs:
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
5 tbsp. warm water
1/2 c. Earth Balance butter, softened
3/4 c. organic sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tsp. almond extract
zest from 1 orange
1/2 c. light dried cranberries
1 c. vegan confectioners sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large (11-12 in. long) bread pan with parchment paper or bake in a 8x8 cake pan instead.
In a small cup, mix the flaxseed meal with water and set aside to thicken.
In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a stand-up mixer, mix together the wet ingredients, including the thickened flaxseed meal mixture, just to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients, again just until combined. Do not over mix here! Remove from mixer and stir in your dried cranberries.
Fold into your lined bread pan and bake for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean it is done. Keep in mind that oven temperatures vary and you may need 10 minutes either way for your bread to come out right. Let sit for 10 minutes on top of the stove and then pick up with the parchment paper sides and transfer onto a plate for drizzling your topping (if choosing that option, otherwise move to a wire rack and serve when cooled).
In a small bowl, whisk your sifted (lump free!) confectioners sugar and juice until it forms a thick liquid consistency. Drizzle over your bread. Let sit for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack. Cool completely before eating.
Makes 8 - 10 slices.
Nutritional Estimations for 2 slices with glaze: Calories 405. Total Fat 15 g. Cholesterol 0 mg. Sodium 356 mg. Potassium 31 mg. Total Carbs 64 g. Fiber 2 g. Sugars 41 g. Protein 4 g. Vitamin A 1%. Vitamin C 5%. Calcium 7%. Iron 2%.