Close up of the cranberry orange bread for the holidays!

The easiest cranberry orange bread recipe

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This is the easiest Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe to make for this holiday season. It is deliciously moist and bursts with flavors from both the cranberries and the orange. It also is the perfect gift if you’re going over to someone’s house!

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Hi friends!


I am so excited to bring you a super fun, super delicious festive bread this week! I made this bread a couple of days ago, and I am still snacking on it right now as I speak.

If we are being completely honest, I had to hide a couple slices for myself so that there would be some left for me to snack on. Kyle and my sister would have finished it all if I did not hide it.

Anyways… I wanted to bring you something festive since it is getting so close to Christmas. This easy cranberry orange bread, is so so easy to make and will be the center piece of the Christmas dessert table.

The beautiful specks of cranberries popping out when you slice into it are one of the funnest part of the whole thing… I mean except actually biting into this goodness!

Cranberry orange glazed bread

What makes this festive cranberry orange bread so special!

When I was creating this recipe, I wanted to make something similar to the rum baba, without the rum. If you don’t know what a rum baba or baba au rum is, it is a small yeast cake saturated with syrup made with hard liquor. When you cut into the cake itself, there are apparent holes in the cake because of the yeast and whenever you take a bite, it is an absolute burst of moistness and flavor!

So if you’re still wondering what’s so special about this orange cranberry loaf bread, well it is very similar to the baba au rum but without using any yeast or soaking it with syrup. It will naturally be super moist because of the orange juice as well as the cranberries!

Let it sit in the fridge overnight to let the flavors infuse a little more and have yourself an even more flavorful dessert on Christmas day!

Festive cranberry orange bread

Since we are talking about festivities, check out the 17 days of holiday cookie recipes and these absolutely delicious cranberry oatmeal cookies!

Cranberry Orange Bread Ingredients

When I say this is a recipe I mean it! Most of the ingredients needed for this recipe are house hold staples.

Bread ingredients

  • Granulated sugar– I used granulated sugar to help extract the oils from the orange zest.
  • orange zest– This will add a delicious citrus hint to the cranberry loaf.
  • All purpose flour– Regular all purpose flour is perfect for this recipe.
  • Salt – Always add a tiny pinch of salt to your baked goods to keep the flavors balanced.
  • Baking soda– This is a leavening agent.
  • Brown sugar– This will add a molasses hint and keep the bread super moist.
  • Melted butter– I like using butter instead of oil to make the cranberry bread more moist and dense!
  • Room temperature butter milk –This will help the bread to rise. We use room temperature butter milk to make sure that the butter doesn’t harden after we mix everything together.
  • Room temperature eggs – Same thing here we use room temperature eggs to make sure that the butter doesn’t harden.
  • Room temperature orange juice – You get the gist of it, room temperature orange juice will make sure that the butter does not solidify when we’re mixing everything!
  • Fresh Cranberries– I used fresh cranberries in this recipe, but if you can’t find fresh ones, you can always use frozen cranberries if they’re easier to find.
  • Extra flour for cranberries – This flour is used to dust the cranberries before we add them into the batter so that they don’t sink to the bottom.

Glaze ingredients

  • Powdered sugar- I made sure to grind my own using granulated sugar to make sure that there was no added corn starch in. By doing this you will make sure that there is no chalky flavor in your glaze.
  • Orange juice– Start with 2 tablespoons and add 1 teaspoon at a time depending on how thick of thin you’d like your glaze to be.
  • Orange zest– This add an extra zing to the whole loaf!

Do I have to use orange zest in this recipe?

I highly recommend using orange zest if possible. The orange zest is what will give this cranberry orange bread a pop of citrus flavor. try to go with an organic orange to get the zest.

If you don’t have any zest at all, you can omit it. Just know that the bread and the glaze will not have a strong citrus/orange flavor.

Where can I find cranberries? and can I use frozen cranberries in this recipe?

I bought my fresh cranberries at Smith’s, a regular grocery store. You can find them pretty much anywhere during cranberry season. My tip to you would be to purchase them when they are in season and freeze them to use them throughout the year!

For this loaf recipe, you can use both fresh cranberries or frozen. Just make sure that you lightly coat them in flour to avoid having them sink to the bottom of the loaf.

Can I use craisins instead of fresh cranberries in this recipe?

Honestly, you probably can. But I would try to avoid doing that because a lot of the moistness of this bread comes from the fresh or frozen cranberries and we want to keep it that way. The craisins might yield something more on the dry side.

If you really really have to use craisins, reduce the granulated sugar to only 1/2 a cup since the craisins will add an extra sweetness to the loaf.

Equipment to make this Cranberry orange bread

Cranberry orange loaf sliced

How to make this cranberry orange bread?

This step by step photo guide will show you exactly how to make this cranberry orange bread!

First start by preheating the oven to 350F then line an 9″ by 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper. By doing so, you will have a much easier time pulling the cranberry loaf out!

  • In a small bowl, rub the granulated sugar and orange zest together with your fingers.
sugar and orange zest mixed together
  • This process will release the natural occurring oils from the zest.
  • In a separate bowl, add in the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar and whisk everything together until well incorporated.
mixed dry ingredients for the orange loaf
Dry ingredients mixed together
  • Add in the orange zest and sugar and mix again until everything is incorporated again.
  • In another medium bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and fresh orange juice, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
adding the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients for the cranberry orange loaf
Wet ingredients for the orange bread
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients.
  • Mix just until combined.
Cranberry orange bread batter almost ready
Cranberries coated in flour
  • Wash and dry the cranberries then place them in a bowl. sprinkle the tablespoon of flour on top.
  • Shake them in the bowl until each one is coated with flour.
Flour coated cranberries
Fold the cranberries into the batter
  • Fold the cranberries into the the batter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Orange cranberry bread going into the baking tin
  • Bake the orange cranberry bread in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. The loaf might start to get too dark so loosely cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil halfway through the baking time.
  • Let the Orange cranberry bread cool down completely then glaze it with the orange glaze and enjoy after the glaze has set.

How to make orange glaze?

This is a tricky one! Actually not really but for me it was. Often times when we make these glazes, we need powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar but the issue with that is that most brands add corn starch to their sugar which then will give your glaze a chalky flavor!

To avoid that you can either buy organic powdered sugar or you can also grind your own in a high speed blender like a Vitamix. I used my NutriBullet to blend the sugar and it worked just fine!

The organic powdered sugar is made with cane sugar and tapioca starch, It won’t yield the perfectly white colored glaze, but it is not an issue for this recipe since the glaze will lean more towards the orange because of the orange zest.

When you make the glaze and drizzle it on top of the cranberry orange loaf, make sure to let it set. Don’t do what I did and cut into it after 20 minutes only… You can see that the glaze was not completely sent when I cut into it which made it crack a little.

I should’ve waited a bit but I needed to take photo since now the sun sets at 4:30 here in Las vegas… Can you believe that?!

Close up of the cranberry orange bread

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Cranberry orange bread close up

The easiest cranberry orange bread

This deliciously moist cranberry orange bread is sure to be THE showstopper at your next holiday family gathering.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

  • a 9" x 5" loaf pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice at room temperature
  • 1 &1/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 tbsp flour for dusting

For the glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Instructions
 

  • Start by preheating the oven to 350F degrees. Cut a length of parchment paper long enough to line the bottom of the loaf pan with extra hanging over the sides. Spray the pan with non stick cooking spray and then set the parchment paper on top and set aside. This will allow the parchment paper to stay put while you're pouring the batter in.
    This technique ensure that you have a way easier time pulling out your baked orange cranberry loaf!
  • In a small bowl, add in the sugar and orange zest and rub the two together using your fingers. The sugar will extract the oils from the orange zest, it will become sweet and fragrant.
  • In a separate bowl, add in the flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar and whisk everything together until well incorporated. Add in the orange zest and sugar and mix again until everything is incorporated again.
  • In another medium bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and fresh orange juice, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.

How to prepare the cranberries

  • Wash and dry the cranberries then place them in a bowl. sprinkle the tablespoon of flour on top and shake them in the bowl until each one is coated with flour.
  • Fold the cranberries into the the batter then pour everything into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake the cranberry orange bread in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean. The loaf might start to get too dark so loosely cover the loaf pan with aluminum foil halfway through the baking time.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool in the loaf pan for 20 minutes. Pull out the cranberry loaf using the parchment paper then let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make the orange glaze

  • When the bread is almost completely cool, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, add in the powdered sugar, orange juice, and the orange zest and whisk until smooth. I like my glaze a little on the thicker side but if you want your glaze a little more runny add in 1 tsp of orange juice at a time and mix until you get to the consistency you prefer.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cranberry orange loaf, let the glaze set for 30-45 minutes then cut and serve!

Notes

  • This cranberry orange bread can be stored in an airtight container on the counter top for 3 days or in the fridge for 5-6 days.
  • I personally prefer putting it in the fridge and warming it up for 10 seconds in the microwave before enjoying it. It makes it even more moist.
 
  • Grind your own powdered sugar to make sure the glaze doesn’t taste chalky. To do so get your granulated sugar and blend it in a high speed blender until it comes fine enough.
Keyword cranberry, cranberry laof, cranberry orange, creanberry orange bread, holidays
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Sliced cranberry orange loaf

Tips to make the perfect craneberry orange loaf!

This is a very simple and easy cranberry orange bread recipe, and by following these tips you can be sure that your cranberry dessert will turn out as good as the one of the photos of this article 🙂

  • Try using an organic orange. Since we are using the zest of the orange in this cranberry bread, try your hardest to get at least one organic orange. You’ll avoid consuming the pesticides that are in the peel.
  • When adding any sort of fruit to your cake always coat it in a bit of flour before adding it to your cake. This process will ensure that the fruits don’t sink to the bottom of the loaf! Trust me you do not want to skip this step.
  • Cover the loaf with aluminum foil halfway through baking it!– I always make sure to cover the cranberry orange loaf halfway through baking it to make sure that it doesn’t brown too much before the center if fully baked. This will ensure an evenly baked loaf with a nicely browned top.
  • Check the doneness of the loaf with a knife– I’ve had my fair share of recipes that don’t turn out exactly like the recipe says, and most likely than not it has to do with the oven I use. When baking we have to keep in mind that every oven has a mind of its own. So your loaf might need 45 minutes while mine needed 55 minutes. So check the doneness of your loaf by poking it with a knife in the center. If the knife comes out clean you will know the cranberry orange bread is ready!
  • Don’t cut the loaf just yet! When the loaf is baked, let it cool down completely. If you cut it too soon, it will crumble and won’t give you nice slices. Of course, it still taste good crumbly, but we are going for a show stopper here! So be patient.
Cranberry orange loaf sliced

Can you freeze this cranberry orange loaf?

Absolutely! I’m all about not wasting food, so anytime I know something will not be eaten completely I like to throw it in the freezer to preserve it for a bit longer.

For this cranberry orange loaf will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. To freeze it, wrap it with plastic wrap and keep it in an airtight container. Whenever you are ready to enjoy it, pull it out let it thaw and pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to still get that moist delicious slices that you’ve been looking for!.

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