This pretty cranberry bread has a great blend of sweet and tart flavors without being overly rich or sweet. It is easy to make, looks, and tastes wonderful! There is no reason to hold yourself back from reaching for that second slice.
Bright red is the color of the season and no wonder cranberries are in my mind again. These tart bright red berries are a treat for the eyes. My kids find it easy to pop a few in the mouth at a time but it is too tart for me to eat raw. I love to cook with them though.
Cranberries are pretty – no doubt about it. These are not as soft-skinned as the other read berries like strawberries, raspberries, or even red currants. This helps the berries stay fresh longer and a perfect natural décor as well. But that is not all – these pack more antioxidants than blueberries. So grab a bag when you find them.
This is a quick bread that finds its way to my kitchen a few times every fall. The hardest part in my mind is chopping the cranberries. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe in the back of the bag of berries. It was a good recipe to start with, but I am glad to have tinkered with it. Over the years it evolved into a healthier and more flavorful version.
If you are like me and find cranberries too tart try this quick bread.
What is a quick bread?
A quick bread, like the name implies, is one that can be made in very little time. Usually, the total time to make it is the same as the time to preheat the oven plus the bake time.
This is achieved using chemical leavening, rather than yeast. There is no kneading to develop gluten or multiple rising of the dough as in the yeast bread. The crumb is different from the yeast-leavened bread. These kinds of bread can be made with low gluten flour as well.
More Quick Bread Recipes
Flour and substitutions
This recipe calls for a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. I love to use whole wheat here as it adds a hint of nutty flavor. You can make this with 100% all-purpose flour for a more airy bread. In this case, reduce the liquids by about 2 tbsp.
You can decide to go the other way and use 100% WW flour. In this case, increase the liquids by ¼ C. Keep in mind that using all whole wheat flour bread will create a denser bread. You can offset it a little by increasing the baking powder from 2 tsp to 1 tbsp and using milk/yogurt instead of Orange juice.
What flavors this bread
Other than cranberries the main flavorings in this bread come from walnuts and orange. Walnuts bring a much-needed crunch and orange is the perfect complement for the cranberry flavor. Orange juice and zest are used to flavor the bread. I add some zest and juice to the icing as well.
Dairy – the only dairy in this recipe is melted butter. For a dairy-free version substitute vegetable, canola, or coconut oil.
Eggs – I would not recommend replacing the egg though. But if you must then leave the egg out and increase the liquids by ¼ c or use your go-to egg substitute. The crumb might turn out to be slightly more crumbly than pictured here.
Nuts – You can leave the nuts out. The nuts add a wonderful textural contrast. Candied peels are a good substitute, but be mindful of the extra sugar it might add to the recipe.
Gluten – I do not have a recommendation here other than to say that use your favorite gluten-free bread mix.
How to make Cranberry bread
The hardest part of this recipe is chopping the cranberries. You can leave them whole, But I find that chopping them creates a more even texture flavors. The same goes for walnuts. Chop them coarsely and add to the flour.
Make the batter
Making this bread is just a matter of mixing the wet and dry ingredients taking care to distribute everything evenly.
All the dry ingredients are mixed first. If you are adding nuts add it to the flour at this time as well.
I like to beat the egg, zest, and the melted butter/oil together before adding to the flour mix. You can beat in the orange juice as well. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. You will get a thick batter.
Scoop the batter into a prepared pan and top with a few reserved cranberries and nuts. Level and bake!
I used one 9X5 loaf pan for this bread and the baking times were 350 ℉ for about 40 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325℉ and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust baking times depending on whether you use a smaller or larger pan.
If at any point the tops of the bread look too brown then cover with aluminum foil and reduce the heat to 325℉.
How to check if the bread is cooked
To tell the truth I don’t always ice this loaf. If I do then I prefer to make a simple orange flavored glaze. You could make cream cheese icing for a richer feel.
This bread tastes best a few hours after it is baked, though it usually does not last that long. So would highly recommend doubling the recipe and making a second loaf.
The bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. Slice, wrap individual pieces and store in freezer-safe bags.
I use orange juice and zest in this recipe as these flavors go well together. You can swap it with milk or yogurt to create a softer crumb.
Use any other nut – almonds, pistachios
Substitute chocolate chips for nuts
For the loaf
- 1 C Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 C All Purpose Flour Unbleached
- 3/4 C Sugar Raw
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 3/4 C Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 Orange (To Zest)
- 1/4 C Melted Butter /oil
- 1 Egg Large
- 2 C Cranberries Fresh or Frozen , coarsely chopped
- 1/2 C Walnuts / Pecan Chopped
For Glaze (optional)
- 1 C Confectioner’s Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Orange Juice
- 1 Tsp Orange Zest
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
- Zest the orange and into a bowl and break the egg into it and beat well. Add the melted butter or oil.
- Measure 3/4 C orange juice .
- Take the dry ingredients – flours, sugar, baking powder, salt – in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well and add most of the chopped nuts (if using). Pour in egg mix. Stir to mix. Pour the orange juice and stir a few times until all the flour is wet. Add most of the chopped cranberries and fold in.
- Line the loaf pan with parchment paper or oil and flour the pan generously. Scoop the batter into the pan. Scatter the reserved nuts and cranberries on top. Use the back of a spoon to level the top of the batter.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325ºF (175°C) and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely. Wrap and store overnight.
- Mix the ingredients for the glaze together until smooth. If the glaze feels too thick add a few more drops of orange juice to thin it. Drizzle over the loaf.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.