Cranberry Orange Bread


Fall is the time for amazing quick breads.  An expansive repertoire of spiced pumpkin, apple, and cranberry breads round out the season; gracing our holiday tables, warming our kitchens, accompanying our morning coffees, and delighting our loved ones.  Quick breads make fantastic gifts for family and friends, and are easily personalized.

I love baking with cranberries.

There is just something about their juicy tartness and lovely bright red color that reeks of holiday bliss.  This brings me to my cranberry quick bread dilemma.  A couple of years ago I came across a wonderful cranberry bread recipe in Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible that runs the cranberries through a food processor prior to baking – dispersing the tart cranberry flavor throughout the bread.  While I enjoyed the way the recipe incorporated the cranberry flavor, I missed the bursts of juicy tartness you get from biting into a whole freshly baked cranberry.  Below is the recipe I came up with as a compromise.  It is loosely adapted from the Beth Hensperger recipe, but with some major changes.  The biggest one being that I split the batter in half, incorporate the processed cranberries into one half of the batter, and then layer the two different batters into the loaf pans separately.  It sounds complicated, but it is only a couple more simple steps, and the resulting quick bread looks stunningly complex and tastes delightfully scrumptious.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves.

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 16 oz. fresh Cranberries (divided)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Orange Extract (this can be substituted with vanilla extract of you do not have any orange extract on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Orange
  • 1/2 cup Maple Syrup (you can add another 1/4 cup of maple syrup if you want it sweeter, or you can substitute it all out for 3/4 cup of sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease two 9×5 (8 1/2 x 4 1/2) loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together.  Set the dry ingredients aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until they are foamy.  Gradually add the oil while you continue to beat the eggs until the batter is thick and frothy.  Add the maple syrup followed by the vanilla and orange extracts.  Zest the orange, and add the zest to the batter along with the juice of the orange.

Return to you dry ingredients, remove 1 cup of the dry ingredient mixture, and set it aside.  Gradually add the remaining dry ingredients to the batter until they are fully incorporated.  Add half (8 oz.) of the cranberries to the batter, and gently stir them in.  Remove about 1/2 of the batter and set it aside in a separate bowl.

In a food processor combine the remaining (8 oz.) cranberries with the brown sugar. Combine the processed cranberries with 1/2 of the separated batter and the reserved 1 cup of dry ingredients.

Divide the processed cranberry mixture into the bottom of your loaf pans.  Gently pour or spoon the other mixture on top of it.  Try not to stir them together, just gently layer the two mixtures, one on top of the other.

Bake the loaves for 45 – 60 minutes.


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