Table of Contents
  1. This easy bread is the perfect Christmas recipe to bake.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. You'll love these other Christmas recipes.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Cranberry Orange Bread Recipe

With notes of sweet and tart cranberry and a bright hit of citrus, this cranberry orange bread is the perfect recipe to bake for Christmas. And with a crusty sugar topping made from orange zest and sanding sugar, each bite has a bit of crunch. Whether it’s for the holidays or any other day, you’ll love this bread!

This easy bread is the perfect Christmas recipe to bake.

Quick bread is a common name we now give to any sweet cake-like bread. The word quick means no yeast is used, and instead, the bread is leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda. This recipe uses tart cranberries for a seasonal treat that is not too sweet but instead offers a well-balanced flavor. With fresh orange, tart cranberries, and toasted walnuts, this bread a simple way to enjoy a fruit that only comes in season for a short time every year. The instant you smell this bread baking, you will make it a tradition.

Loaf of cranberry orange bread sitting on white marble surface with slice of bread sitting on white plate with cup of coffee in the background along with oranges and cranberries.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Orange juice adds some additional sweetness to the recipe, along with acidity and brightness. Citrus has the ability to bring out other flavors like cranberry.
  • Orange zest holds all the essential oils of the orange. The zest will intensify the orange flavor.
  • Cranberries are tart on their own but work well with the sweet batter of quick bread. The cranberries will be sweetened with sugar but still maintain their tart flavor for a perfect balance.
  • Walnuts add a great texture to the bread. Be sure to toast the nuts before chopping and adding them to the batter. The toasted nuts will have more flavor and will stay crisp when baked.
White marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make cranberry orange bread including cranberries, orange juice, orange, flour, sugar, spices, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Mix together the wet ingredients. In a bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Cream this with a hand mixer until the mixture is combined. Then add in the egg and let it combine with the butter and sugar. Add in the orange juice and orange zest and mix those into the batter as well.
  1. Mix in the dry ingredients. To the batter, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using the hand mixer, mix everything together, without overmixing, until just combined.
  1. Chop the cranberries and walnuts. In a small food chopper or food processor, add the cranberries. Pulse the chopper or processor until the cranberries are broken down but not mush. Most of the cranberries should be broken down, with a few larger pieces remaining. Separately, toast the walnuts in the oven at 350°F until they’re fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Once toasted and cooled, chop into small pieces. To the batter, add the chopped cranberries and chopped walnuts. Gently fold these two ingredients into the batter with a spatula or spoon, aiming to avoid mixing too much. The cranberries may exude some of their juices, turning the batter slightly pink, which is perfectly normal.
  1. Prepare the top of the bread. Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper once in the loaf pan as well. Pour the mixed batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top to ensure everything is level. Using a spatula or knife, make a slice down the center of the top of the bread, which will give the bread a natural cracking point while baking. Separately, in a small bowl, combine the sanding sugar and orange zest. Mix together until evenly combined and sprinkle on top of the bread in the loaf pan.
  1. Bake the bread. Place the bread in the oven and bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before slicing.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • While many recipes that begin with creaming butter and sugar will instruct you to mix until light and fluffy, this recipe has a different ratio of butter to sugar. Thus, when creaming the butter and sugar, do not expect a light and fluffy texture this time.
  • To zest the orange, place the orange in one static hand and use the other hand to pull the Microplane across the surface. This will collect all of the orange zest in the confines of the Microplane, which can then be tapped out easily into the bowl with all of the other ingredients.
  • When mixing the dry and wet ingredients, be sure not to overmix them. Use the stand mixer until everything is just combined, meaning that a few streaks of flour are left in the bowl. Then use a spatula or spoon to work everything together until mixed well, which will avoid adding in too much air.
  • To ensure the walnuts have lots of flavor in this bread, make sure to toast them before adding them to the batter. Nuts will not toast when they’re baking inside of batter or dough, so to ensure they have loads of flavor, they must be toasted beforehand.
White marble surface with plate sitting with slice of cranberry orange bread with cranberries and rest of loaf of bread to the side.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

What is the best way to eat this bread?

I see this bread as being perfect for serving on three occasions: breakfast, snack, or dessert. For breakfast, this bread is great when served slightly toasted with a slather of butter on top. For a snack, it’s perfect when paired with coffee or tea. And for dessert, it’s ideal for serving with ice cream on top. Take your pick!

Can this bread be frozen after it’s baked?

Yes, this is the perfect make-ahead recipe. After cooling to room temperature, wrap tightly and store in an airtight container in the freezer. This will keep up to three months.

Does this bread have to be baked in a loaf pan?

No, this recipe can also be made in an 8×8 baking dish. The baking time will be less if baked in a baking dish, but it will taste the same!

Can the walnuts be left out if allergic or adverse to nuts?

Yes, the walnuts can be omitted or substituted with another nut or seed according to personal preference.

Watch how to make this recipe.

YouTube video

More Christmas recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you can let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they, too, can make, enjoy, and love!

White plate with slice of cranberry orange bread with cranberries and sliced oranges all around as well as green garland.

Cranberry Orange Bread

4.91 from 10 votes
With notes of sweet and tart cranberry and a bright hit of citrus, this cranberry orange bread is the perfect recipe to bake for Christmas. And with a crusty sugar topping made from orange zest and sanding sugar, each bite has a bit of crunch. Whether it’s for the holidays or any other day, you’ll love this bread!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups cranberries chopped
  • ¾ cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional)

For the crisp topping

  • ¼ cup sanding sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 ½- x 4 ½-inch loaf pan and line it with a piece of parchment to create a sling. Grease the parchment in the pan and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat for 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, orange juice, and orange zest. Mix to combine evenly, about 1-2 minutes.
    4 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 large egg, ¾ cup orange juice, 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Chop the cranberries by hand or add them to a food processor and pulse until they are evenly chopped. Add the chopped cranberries and chopped walnuts to the batter and fold to incorporate them. Do not overmix, or the cranberries will release their juices and color into the batter.
    1 ½ cups cranberries, ¾ cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Run a knife or spatula down the center of the batter, touching the bottom of the pan to encourage a split when baking.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sanding sugar and the orange zest. Rub the mixture between fingers to create a wet sand-like mixture. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the batter and bake until the bread is domed and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean, 30-40 minutes. Note: If using one large pan, bake for 45-55 minutes.
    ¼ cup sanding sugar, 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Once baked, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Once slightly cooled, use the parchment sling to remove the bread and cool to serve.

Notes

  • While many recipes that begin with creaming butter and sugar will instruct you to mix until light and fluffy, this recipe has a different ratio of butter to sugar. Thus, when creaming the butter and sugar, do not expect a light and fluffy texture this time.
  • To zest the orange, place the orange in one static hand and use the other hand to pull the Microplane across the surface. This will collect all of the orange zest in the confines of the Microplane, which can then be tapped out easily into the bowl with all of the other ingredients.
  • When mixing the dry and wet ingredients, be sure not to overmix them. Use the stand mixer until everything is just combined, meaning that a few streaks of flour are left in the bowl. Then use a spatula or spoon to work everything together until mixed well, which will avoid adding in too much air.
  • To ensure the walnuts have lots of flavor in this bread, make sure to toast them before adding them to the batter. Nuts will not toast when they’re baking inside of batter or dough, so to ensure they have loads of flavor, they must be toasted beforehand.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 259kcal
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

You May Also Like

Never miss a post by signing up for my newsletter.

Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

Learn more about me

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating:




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Do NOT give this bread as a gift. You will regret it. Once you try it, you will know how amazing it is and you won’t want to share it. I just made this and WOW so good! Just the right amount of sweet and orange is just a bright note, but cranberry is the real star! The crunchy crust is the best part. I didn’t have any walnuts, but did have pecans and this is their season too and they were fab! Thanks for this recipe!

  2. 4 stars
    Finally made this bread and I have to say it was absolutely fabulous. A nice balance between sugar and tart was perfect. I made four small loaves my boy boyfriend I never stopped eating it all weekend. Delicious 😋

  3. 5 stars
    Love your shows and content and most things you show how to achieve a good cookie or lovely plant. I get so excited to see what you are going to do each time I see you come on!

  4. This cake is amazing, however, I make it with a butter cream sauce that I pour over it before serving and it takes it to a whole new level. This is one of the biggest requested cakes I get from friends and family for Christmas, I call it Christmas cake. Kaleb, I love your videos Merry Christmas, And Happy Baking

  5. Thank you for all the hard work you do to make all the decisions recipes for others to use.

    I love when you have your mom and grandma in your videos.

    Merry Christmas.

  6. 5 stars
    I just made the cranberry bread. So good. I used dried cranberries instead of fresh. Fresh would have been better, but I couldn’t find any last minute. It was still delicious!

  7. 5 stars
    I could watch Kaleb all day long. He’s all around wonderful. If I had a son I would be delighted if it was him. Kalevala, you make me smile. Thank you.

  8. I enjoy your page I haven’t got to try any of your recipes yet but I will. I’m so glad that your family was with you for the holidays. I’m going to enjoy the next recipes with you. GOD BLESS YOU.

  9. 5 stars
    Absolutely love this recipe, it’s just the right amount of sweet and tart. Its very moist and I love the crunch from sanding sugar on top. YUM! Thank you for sharing.