I have a weakness when it comes to cranberries. In part it’s because there’s such a short window to buy fresh ones – and pretty much every time I go grocery shopping, I convince myself that I better buy a few bags lest they disappear. I love throwing them into scones and muffins, making relish (why cranberry relish is a once-a-year dish, I’ll never understand), and using them to bake Emily Luchetti’s cranberry pumpkin pecan upside-down cake (highly recommended if you've never tried it). So it kind of shocks me that it took me so long to figure out to put them in banana bread. To create this recipe, I adapted my favorite banana bread, Melissa Clark’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread. In addition to cranberries, I added toasted pecans, orange juice, orange zest and ginger – since cranberries kind of beg to be paired with orange and ginger – and made the vanilla more prominent. Whatever you do, don’t skip the glaze. The addition of dark brown sugar makes it more complex than your typical powdered sugar glaze (an idea I borrowed from Heidi Swanson), and it’s fragrant and full of flavor from the vanilla and orange. Tightly covered, the bread should keep for several days. I’m planning to make it in mini loaf pans to give as holiday gifts. —EmilyC
For the bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup of toasted chopped pecans
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups ULTRA ripe bananas (from about 3 bananas), mashed with a fork into a smooth puree
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or full fat is best)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9- by 5- inch loaf pan. I like to line the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment to ensure easy removal.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger.
In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and pecans, again just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. (Sometimes my loaves have taken up to 75 minutes; use the toothpick test, not time, as your main guide.) Remove from oven to a wire rack. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars, orange juice and vanilla until smooth; if necessary, add more juice or sugar until your glaze reaches the right consistency for drizzling. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the bread.