Rudd Mayer’s Famous* Holiday Breads

Alix Mayer

My mom, who passed away in 2002, used to make loads of loaves — cranberry bread and pumpkin bread — for holiday gifts and for the family to enjoy from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

I remember gorging myself on these breads and not really wanting to eat anything else at family holiday dinners.  My mom served them pre-sliced on a china plate, and we would slather tons of margarine on each slice. The tub of Fleishman’s margarine even had its own holiday pewter container, complete with top, to cover the tacky yellow and green commercial packaging. With each bite of holiday bread, I would marvel at the imprint my teeth made in the thick margarine.

My mom would keep many of these loaves frozen in tin foil with red velvet ribbons around each one. When a neighbor or friend would come by the house to drop off a Christmas gift, my mom would take a loaf out of the freezer and give it to them. As the holidays came to a close, my siblings and I always fought for the last few slices of the breads — even lowering ourselves to eat the heel slices — which we’d toast first, then slather with margarine.

Not having my mom anymore to make these breads each holiday is really hard for me. I’m working on re-producing them with gluten-free flour, and since margarine has been outed as bad for us, I’ll serve mine with organic butter or ghee.

*Famous only among our friends in Winnetka, Illinois.

Cranberry Bread

Combine Dry Ingredients:

  • 2c flour
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 2 and 1/2t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1c sugar

Separately Mix, then add:

  • 2T hot water
  • 2T butter

Separately Mix, then add:

  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1 egg


  • 3c raw whole cranberries

Greased loaf pan
325 degrees
1 hour 10 minutes
Test with toothpick
Let cool, wrap, and store in fridge or freezer.

Pumpkin Bread

Mix and sift dry ingredients:

  • 1 and 3/4c flour
  • 1 and 1/2c sugar
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t nutmeg

Make well in center of dry ingredients, and add:

  • 1/2 c melted margarine
  • 1c pumpkin from can
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3c water

Mix till moistened.

Greased AND floured loaf pan
350 degrees
1 hour 10 minutes
Test with toothpick

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