Marion Cunningham's Christmas Bread

This was an unusual recipe....not a cake, but not really bread, either. I'm so glad I tried it because 
as Ms. Cunningham suggests:  "this splendid but easy recipe will soon become a Christmas tradition in your home." Marion plumps the raisins in amaretto and then it's all added to the batter, which results in a nice moist crumb. This would make a perfect brunch offering for the holidays as the flavors are lovely for Christmas.

I made both muffins and one round panettone-type loaf. It freezes nicely, although eating this warm right out of the oven was hands down delicious.
 No butter needed. This is the kind of bread that will appeal to the adults in your family. Kids? Maybe not so much. I found it rather strong of amaretto.....this is not a bad thing. You know me, boozy ice cream and now boozy bread.  :) Bring on the holidays!

Christmas Bread

From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham

1 cup raisins
1/2 cup currants
grated rind with a little white pith of 1 orange
grated rind with a little white pith of 1 lemon (orange and lemon together should make about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup almond liqueur (or brandy, rum or bourbon) I used more as it should be enough to cover the fruit
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 3 inch loaf pans or muffin tins. (I made muffins and one round loaf)
Put the raisins, currants, rinds, and liqueur in a small bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes.
Put the eggs and oil in bowl and whisk until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and stir vigorously until well blended. Add the raisin mixture, liquid and all. Mix well.

Spoon batter into the loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes for the loaves and 45 for muffins or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let rest 10  minutes in the pans, turn out on a rack to cool. Allow to cool before slicing. If making muffins, you may serve them hot.


  1. Very impressive and beautiful bread Barbara. I often plump raisins in a liquor and it works wonders on flavor.

    Hope you had a fabulous birthday.

  2. we call these cakes in France " gateau de voyage" which means that these are cakes that we travel with !PIerre

  3. A great bread! Marvelous Christmassy flavors.



  4. I see Sam wished you a happy birthday and I'm doing the same. Celebrate! I've had Marion's Breakfast Book for ages but have never tried this recipe. I will because it looks delicious--all the flavors of Christmas--and easy.


  5. It does sound and look good..Too funny every time you speak of Marion Cunningham..I see Happy Days:)

  6. Fabulous! It just might be my Christmas brunch bread this year...

  7. I really love simple non adorned cakes like these. There is something so comforting about them. Its the kind of cake you can just relax with (yes, cake relaxes me LOL). *kisses* HH

  8. Beautiful! I'm loving the "soaked in amaretto" part. I must give this a try Barbara.

  9. Another tasty treat from a wonderful cook, this cake would make a nice change from the dark fruit cake I make each Christmas.

  10. Barbara I think in a word amazing!! and georgeous:)

  11. This is a perfect bread for the holidays! I think I will make it for our New Year's get together with friends . . . and maybe to take to our Christmas Day celebration. Thanks Barbara

  12. What a lovely bread for the holidays. It's right up my alley because I prefer breads that aren't too sweet. Wish I had a slice with the cup of coffee I just poured.

  13. Heavy on the Amaretto is alright with me, too! What a glorious cake, what kind of round pan did you use, it looks so nice and tall.

  14. Gorgeous holiday bread, my dear. The currents looks like little jewels in the middle.

  15. This bread sounds amazing, warm right out of the oven, and I do love the amaretto too!

  16. This sounds so tasty! I'm going to have to try it with whole wheat flour.

  17. This bread is lovely and so festive, Barbara! I bet it's fantastic on its own or maybe topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg...mmm... ;)

  18. I love things with that kind of texture and the spices are sublime... although for some peculiar reason, I have never liked amaretto... fine with the hazelnut stuff, fra angelico, just not amaretto... go figure. I am so happy you are championing Marion Cunningham... she really should be one of the household gods of cooking like Julia... i have no idea why she isn't. this cake is on my try page!

  19. Hi Barbara,

    Oh yum! with the liqueur and the flavours of the cloves and nutmeg and with the brown sugar would be lovely.
    I will be trying this and thank you for sharing the recipe.

    Happy weekend

  20. This looks wonderful, Barbara - I am quite happy when the words "Christmas" and "Bread" are put together. What was the diameter of the round pan you used? Was it a panettone pan?

  21. Darling Barbara! YOU NEVER CEASE to amaze me with the recipes that you come up with that remind me so much of home. Ahhhhh....these breads were and still are my favorites. Dense, sweet and reminiscent of days gone by.....thank you for your kind comments on my post. Oh how fun it is to CREATE!!!!!! Anita

  22. I don't think you can go wrong with a boozy bread ;) It looks like it has wonderful flavors for the holidays and it looks beautiful!

  23. Any cake with Amaretto in it has to be good! I bet the fragrance of it as it comes out of the oven is pretty irresistible, too! ;)

  24. I love those boozy, citrusy, nutmegy cake-bread Barbara! It is aptly named Christmas bread with all those wonderful flavors in it!

  25. What a lovely bread, Barbara. The plumped fruit must be a wonderful addition to an already delicious cake. I suspect we'll be trying this during the holidays. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  26. Hehehehehe, boozy bread. You crack me up.

    This loaf looks gorgeous!

  27. This is a really silly question but is that Marion Cunningham from Happy Days? :o

  28. so you WANT the pith? that's interesting--i've never seen it before. what a great texture on this bread, barbara--it's lovely!

  29. Bring on the holidays indeed. And not having to share with the kids is indeed a good thing! Happy belated birthday (a little dog told me) ;)

  30. So nice to find something different yet still with a Christmas flavour. This would be perfect for breakfast on Christmas Day. I can't wait for the holidays.



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