Today I am sharing a family tradition with you all! Cranberry Orange Bread!
For most Christmas mornings growing up, my mom would make a loaf of cranberry nut bread that was scented with fresh orange.
After opening gifts, we would move into our dining room and sip on hot coffee or orange juice and have a slice of the cranberry bread. It was a comfort staple in our home, and a sweet holiday tradition.
While I LOVED my mom’s bread, I still struggled with the nuts. I love nuts as a snack, but I am firmly in the no-nuts-in-my-soft-and-fluffy-baked-goods camp. They ruin the textural experience for me.
If you hand me a brownie or a chocolate chip cookie with nuts in it, I’ll throw a fit. Not really. But in my head, I throw a fit. Nuts ruin those things! We don’t have to agree on this – there are definitely two camps when it comes to nuts in baked goods. You won’t find many of those baked goods here.
SO, I am taking my mom’s Christmas morning cranberry bread and tweaking things a bit. First and foremost, I am removing the nuts – walnuts were always what she used – but you can, of course, add them to your version.
Her recipe was based on an old cookbook recipe (from this book). That recipe called for vegetable shortening and, in my humble opinion, not enough of the wet ingredients. We want quick breads like this to be sweet and plenty moist, after all.
I’ve adjusted that recipe a bit, while still maintaining the delicious flavors of cranberries and orange. I have to say, I think my mom would approve! Even sans nuts!
Ingredients You Need to Make this Cranberry Orange Bread:
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Kosher salt
- Avocado oil (any neutral oil will work – coconut, canola, etc)
- Freshly squeezed orange juice
- Orange zest
- Vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- Full-fat sour cream
- Whole milk
- Fresh cranberries
- Walnuts or pecans (optional – I leave them out!)
- Powdered sugar
How to Make Cranberry Orange Bread:
- Start by mixing the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients until smooth.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and smooth.
- Fold in the chopped cranberries (and nuts, if using).
- Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour (actual cooking time can vary depending on your oven. Begin checking around 50 minutes and add time, as needed). If the bread is browning too much before it is done cooking, lightly tent it with tin foil until it is done baking.
- Allow the bread to cool completely and then top with a glaze made from powdered sugar, fresh orange juice, and vanilla.
- Allow the glaze to set and then slice and serve.
Tips & Tricks for Making Cranberry Orange Bread:
- Use full-fat dairy for this recipe so that the bread comes out moist and dense. This ends up looking and tasting like pound cake, so we don’t want to skimp on the fat in the dairy.
- I like to ensure that both my dry ingredients and my wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed before combining them. This ensures that I do not have to overmix my batter once they are combined. Overmixing results in a dense, drier baked good, so as little mixing as possible is best.
- You must use fresh orange juice for this recipe. It adds the perfect amount of sweetness and a freshness that you just can’t get from the bottled juice at the store.
- Chop your cranberries and nuts before adding to the batter. This helps them to evenly distribute in the batter.
- You can make this bread a few days in advance and keep it well wrapped at room temperature. You can also bake, cool, and then freeze this bread. It will keep in the freezer for 3 months. I recommend glazing the bread after it has thoroughly defrosted.
- While this is totally optional, topping the glazed bread with sugared cranberries is a special and festive touch. They are purely for decoration, though, and will not affect the flavor of the bread.
I hope you make and enjoy this (slightly tweaked) family tradition. This bread is perfectly moist and sweet with a tender crumb. The vanilla bean, fresh orange, and tangy cranberries all shine through and work so well together.Print
This Cranberry Orange Bread is moist, tender, and fluffy and features the flavors of vanilla bean, fresh orange, and tangy cranberries! The textures and flavors here are perfection. A vanilla bean orange glaze drizzled over top seals the sweet deal. This is an awesome treat to make around the holidays – it’s so versatile and everyone loves it!
For the Bread:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup avocado oil (any neutral oil will work – coconut, canola, etc)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 1-2 oranges)
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 1 cup full-fat sour cream or yogurt
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2–3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- Additional orange zest
- Additional cranberries
For the Bread:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray. For easy removal, you can also line the pan with a sheet of parchment that overhangs the sides.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, orange juice, zest, vanilla, sour cream, and milk until smooth.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until they just come together without any lumps of flour (resist the urge to overmix). The batter will be thick.
- Gently fold in the cranberries and nuts (if using).
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top in an even layer.
- Bake for 1 hour (begin checking around 50 minutes) or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (in my oven, it took about 1 hour 15 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan before removing and glazing.
For the Glaze:
- Whisk the powdered sugar, orange juice, and vanilla together until smooth, creamy, and of a drizzling consistency. If the glaze is too thick, add more orange juice as needed.
- Pour the glaze over the cooled bread.
- Garnish with additional orange zest and cranberries, as desired.
- Slice and serve!
- I love using vanilla bean paste here because you can see the flecks of vanilla bean throughout the bread and the glaze. If you don’t have the paste, vanilla extract works just fine!
- I recommend using full-fat dairy for this recipe so that the bread comes out moist and dense.
- This bread will keep, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to three days.
- This is my adaptation of my mom’s recipe, which is a take on the version from this book.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: quick breads
Keywords: cranberry orange bread, orange cranberry bread, cranberry orange cake, cranberry orange loaf cake, cranberry orange quick bread, orange cranberry quick bread