Christmas recipes are taking over my kitchen. I’ve been baking up a storm this season getting ready for our annual Christmas parties. I even bought several pounds of fresh cranberries, oranges, flour, sugars, and eggs in preparation for baking. I’m making all the classic Christmas cookies like these Peanut Butter Blossoms, Corn Flake Wreaths, Pecan Snowball Cookies, and even Christmas candy and desserts like Moose Munch, holiday Toffee Cracker Candy, Cranberry Fluff, Gingerbread Cookies, Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and classic Christmas Sugar Cookie Cutouts.
How to Make Cranberry Orange Bread Supremely Moist
Cranberry Orange Bread HAS to be moist. To achieve this, I use freshly squeezed orange juice with a little sour cream and milk in the cake. While this is an incredibly moist crumb loaf bread, it’s much like a sturdy and moist pound cake, much like my Sweet Cornbread recipe that everyone raves about. The “bread” is thick and heavy like a loaf of abundantly moist banana bread and it doesn’t lack moisture that’s for sure. It’s not a dry yeast bread or dry like fruit cake tends to be.
To ensure the sweet bread is supremely orange in flavor, I like to mix the sugar and orange zest together until the sugar takes on an orange color. Since the fresh zest is moist and wet, it binds to the sugar instantly while releasing orange flavor. This way, the citrus flavor is evenly distributed throughout.
How to Make Cranberry Bread
- Blend orange zest and sugar together.
- Beat wet ingredients.
- Whisk together dry ingredients.
- Add dry ingredients and orange sugar to wet ingredients.
- Mix until smooth.
- Dust cranberries in flour.
- Fold in cranberries
- Bake in the oven at 350 °F for 70-85 minutes in loaf pan.
- Drizzle top of the bread in orange icing glaze.
- Slice bread into bite-size pieces and serve in cupcake liners.
How to Serve Cranberry Bread
Serve Cranberry Orange Bread at your traditional Christmas party. When it comes to hosting a holiday party, I’ve learned bite-size servings are best. Guests love to sample Christmas desserts. To prevent waste and to ensure everyone gets to try it, I’ve learned to cut desserts and candy into little chunks and serve them in cupcake liners. Of course, if you’re making this delicious sweet bread for yourself, cut the bread into slices.
Cranberry Orange Bread is best to make when cranberries are in season. Traditionally, raw cranberries come from a bog in Wisconsin and won’t hit store shelves until mid-fall to the winter months. I have found fresh cranberries as early as September. For this reason, cranberry desserts are typically popular to make during the winter months and even more popular to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Take this Pound Cake to the Next Level
- Use orange extract in place of almond extract.
- Decorate in Christmas sprinkles.
- Replace the orange icing with orange cream cheese frosting.
- Stuff sweetened cream cheese in the center before baking.
Quick Bread Tips
DO FLOUR THE CRANBERRIES to prevent the berries from sinking or rising to the top. The flour binds to the skin and works to hold the berries in place.
- MINI MUFFINS: Adjust the baking length to 10-15 minutes. Adjust time accordingly until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- MINI LOAVES: Reduce baking time to half or about 30 minutes or bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- DARK COATED NON-STICK LOAF PANS: Because the bottom of the bread can burn more easily, place an aluminum (silver) baking sheet under the dark pan. This will slow the heat absorption down and reduce any burn.
Cranberry Bread Questions
DO USE FRESH ORANGES and skip using canned orange juice beverages. You’ll need 1-2 navel oranges. I zest my oranges completely first then use a fork to twist into the center to juice it. Orange zest and the freshly squeezed juice are the main star ingredients in adding citrus flavor. The dessert gets a double dose of orange flavor because the icing is made with fresh orange juice, too.
Can I make cranberry bread in advance? Yes! Bake the loaf(s) and cool. Next, wrap it in foil and place it in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Store in the freezer for up to 6-9 months.
Can I use dried cranberries in place of cranberries? Yes, you can. While I have not tried it, it’s perfectly safe to use dried cranberries in baked goods. Use 3/4 to 1 cup in this recipe.
What can I make with the leftover cranberries I have? To use up fresh cranberries, try my Cranberry Fluff Salad recipe. It’s a popular dessert salad served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. This Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Relish are great served with turkey or on top of deli sandwiches. Make Cranberry Cocktail Meatballs for a tasty winter dinner or party appetizer with Christmas Jingle Juice.
Serving this delicious quick bread for a holiday party? Cut the bakery-style pastry bread into thick slices then cut into little bite-size chunks. Serve bite-size pieces in cupcake liners on a cookie tray or dessert table spread.
Cranberry Orange Bread with Glaze
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp sour cream
- 1½ tbsp milk can use heavy cream or half and half
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (you'll need 2 navel oranges for this total recipe)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ tsp almond extract
- 1¾ cups fresh cranberries
- 1½ tbsp all-purpose flour
Orange Icing Glaze
- 1 cup powdered confectioners' sugar
- ½ tsp orange zest
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ tsp almond extract
- Combine sugar and orange zest. Mix until sugar takes on an orange color; set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat sour cream, milk, orange juice, vegetable oil, eggs, and almond extract on low just until combined.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add dry ingredients plus orange sugar mixture to wet ingredients.
- Mix on low until smooth.
- Toss 1½ tbsp flour with cranberries. This will prevent the cranberries from moving too much.
- Fold in cranberries with bread batter.
- Grease and lightly flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
- Evenly spread batter into pan.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 70-85 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine took 79 minutes). Tent with foil last 15 minutes of baking.
- Allow to cool 10 minutes then flip upside down to remove. Place on a cooling rack.
- Mix together orange glaze ingredients. Once completely cool, drizzle over bread. Slice into 12 slices.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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