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Help my sinking Cranberry Bread

I love the texture (very moist) and flavour of my grandmother's cranberry bread, but it always sink in the middle after it comes out of the oven. I don't remember this happening to her loaves, but it has been 15-20 years since I had one made by her.
Here's the recipe:

Cranberry Bread
1/4 c shortening
1 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c orange juice (I use undiluted frozen concentrate that has defrosted)
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c chopped cranberries

Cream sugar and shortening, add egg and mix until fully incorporated. Mix in dry ingredients and juice alternating. Add in cranberries and mix to combine.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

So, my fist thought was that the ingredients were too cold going into the oven, I would often use frozen cranberries, not always fully defrost the juice. Now I make sure everything (but not usually the egg) is at room temp, still sinks in the middle.
I tried adding another egg to the recipe. The loaf didn't sink this time, but the bread was too eggy. It changed the texture making it drier and I didn't like the flavour as much with the extra egg.

Are there any other changes I could try or should I just accept that this is a recipe that will always taste good, just not look good.

Thanks for the advice!

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  1. All ingredients should be at room temperature, including the egg(s), and don't over mix it. Mix just long enough to incorporate all ingredients, pour into your bread pan and slide it gently onto a centered rack in a "well preheated" oven. If all else fails, try a water bath (room temperature water in the bath) so that the bread bakes more evenly. Whether you use a dark colored or shiny surfaced bread pan can also make a difference. I'd select the shiny one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Thanks! I usually use a pyrex loaf pan, I will try a shiny one on my next attempt. I always preheat my oven and am careful about over mixing. I'll try and plan ahead enough to have a room temp egg next time too. I'll let you know if all this makes the difference.

    2. It sounds like your recipe has too much liquid in it, probably from the liquid given off by the frozen cranberries. I'd cut back the orange juice by a quarter cup if using frozen cranberries.

      1. It sounds to me like it is simply not done baking. I know this may be a stupid question (I don't know what level of baker you are! :-) ), but are you testing it before you take it out of the oven? Loaves can be deceiving - appear to be done, but aren't in the middle. And because a loaf is much taller/thicker than a cake or muffin, using the finger-spring-back method also may not accurately tell you if it's done deep inside. Stick a long tester down into the middle and make sure it's done before you take it out (just use a piece of spaghetti if you don't have an actual tester). If the top is getting too brown and it's not done, tent it with foil until it is done.

        Also, do you have an oven thermometer? It's possible your oven is not accurate.

        the other suggestions are good too. I also prefer metal pans for loaves.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Scirocco

          I agree--since it's a tried and true recipe, I'd check for doneness first.

        2. My recipe is pretty much the same and doesn't fall.

          I make a similar recipe, don't worry about the temperature of the ingredients, and it doesn't fall. I do, however, cook it about fifteen minutes longer than the recipe calls for.

          1. Looks like the recipe on the Ocean Spray bag, which I make all the time. I don't use concentrated OJ, though....could that be the culprit? Have you tried it with normal thickness OJ?

            Do you other baked goods come out fine (or could it be old baking powder/soda?)

            I use a metal loaf pan. That may well make the loaf bake faster. Mine is sometimes a little gummy (which I kinda like) in the middle, so I can see how this could happen. I agree that underbaking may be the easily resolved problem.

            1. Try using regular OJ, not undiluted concentrate.... or dilute the concentrate to proper strength. Straight concentrate adds extra sugar to the equation and may throw off your texture. Did your Grandma use undiluted concentrate?
              If you bake this in a loaf pan you may need an additional 5-10 minutes of baking time... is your oven accurate?
              Are you using all purpose flour? Cake flour won't give a quick bread enough structure.

              Hope these tips help... it can be frustrating when a recipe just doesn't turn out the way you hope! Keep baking :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: iluvcookies

                I never thought about the undiluted concentrate being the problem, I'm sure that's not what my granny used. I do it that way because I like the extra orange flavour, but maybe when I try again this week-end I'll add some orange zest instead and use regular oj.
                I don't have problems with any of my other baked goods, so oven temp is good and ingredients are fresh.
                I look froward to figuring it out this week-end thanks to all the advice here! And my kids look forward to eating the results, sunken loaf or mot!

                1. re: cheesymama

                  I don't want to ask you an obvious question, but could you try to bake it at 325, for one hour. See if that doesn't help. I have a banana bread that if I use 3 bananas which makes it very moist has done what you say.

              2. That is strange its too eggy with two eggs. I switch Martha Stewart's recipe for blueberry muffins out for cranberries and dried cherries, it turns out great. I can make a loaf too, never had eggy being the problem. Her recipe is very close to yours, only uses butter, and two eggs.

                1. your oven may be cooler than g-ma's. preheat well, bake the bread in the middle of the oven (not at the top, at all costs!)

                  when you think it's done, temp the quickbread with a digital probe thermometer. i'm serious. take the bread out when it reads 200 degrees in the middle of the loaf. if it isn't 200 degrees, the bread's not done & it may fall, and the egg inside may not be cooked and it might be slimy and gross to eat.

                  1. Thanks everyone for your advice and suggestions, they are much appreciated!
                    If I were having the loaf for the first time I probably would not consider it too eggy, but with the extra egg added in to the recipe it just didn't taste like what I had grown up with.
                    I just took a loaf out and although it didn't rise up to a nice mounded loaf it didn't sink either! I have a nice flat, and tasty, cranberry loaf.
                    Here are the changes I made. I reduced the oj to 2/3 cup and used a combo of freshly squeezed (I was zesting an orange, so why not use the juice too) and enough diluted concentrate to make up to the required amount. I used a light loaf pan and half way through baking I reduced the oven temp to 325F and left the loaf in for a full hour. I also added the zest of one orange (As mentioned above) to augment the orange flavour.
                    So thanks for all the pointers, I'm going to keep playing with it, but I'm confident I'll get it!
                    BTW I don't have problems with any of my other "go to" recipes, so I know it's not old ingredients and my oven temp is good.