Delicious orange cranberry loaf is an ideal treat to be enjoyed around Christmas time, and beyond! This festive cranberry bread consists of soft, moist and fragrant orange-flavoured sponge, laced with sharp, plump and vibrant cranberries. It is also drizzled with fresh citrus glaze for a simple and tasty finish.
It's a quick and easy, crowd-pleasing bake, that doesn't require any fancy equipment or special skills, so it's great for any novice or less-experienced bakers. It comes together in no time, and keeps lovely and moist for days, allowing you to enjoy it for longer.
Quick bread recipes like this one are a fab alternative to traditional Christmas puddings, and they also make great gifts, without breaking the bank.
This cranberry orange quick bread is an adaptation of my orange and cranberry bundt cake recipe, and similar to my popular passion fruit cake recipe, with few minor adjustments. The sponge is dense, yet light, soft and wonderfully moist, where tartness of the cranberries pairs wonderfully with sweet and juicy oranges.
Ingredients and substitutions
Gather the following ingredients to make this moist cranberry orange bread recipe:
- Cranberries - Use fresh or frozen cranberries, for best result and maximum flavour. If using frozen cranberries, there is no need to thaw them first.
- Orange - One large orange, or a couple of small ones, to add that fresh and fragrant citrus flavour to our bake. We are using orange zest, as well as orange juice in the sponge, and in the glaze. Freshly squeezed orange juice will work best, but you can use juice from the box instead.
- Flour - All purpose/ plain flour. Reserve about ½ tablespoon of flour for the cranberries. Tossing the berries with flour will help to prevent them sinking into the bottom of the loaf.
- Baking powder - To add an extra volume to this lovely cranberry orange loaf.
- Butter - Soft, room temperature unsalted butter.
- Soured cream - To add moisture to the batter, as well as to create that velvety and tender crumb/ texture. You can replace the sour cream with same amount of milk, yoghurt or buttermilk. Whichever you choose, make sure it is at room temperature.
- Eggs - Large eggs at room temperature.
- Sugar - White caster or granulated sugar for the cake batter, and icing/ powdered sugar for the orange glaze.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe card and the full list of the ingredients.
Be sure to bring the ingredients to the room temperature before you attempt this quick bread recipe. Start by preparing the baking tin (loaf pan). Grease it with butter, and dust it with some flour inside. Tap any excess flour off. Alternatively, use the baking paper to line the baking tin with, making sure there is plenty of overhang on both sides and both ends of the tin.
Hint: Cutting the butter into small cubes allows for faster softening. Cut the butter into ½-inch pieces (or smaller for even faster results). Let it sit on the kitchen counter until it reaches the room temperature and is softer to the touch.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and a ½ teaspoon salt. Set it aside.
Pour the soured cream (or milk or yoghurt) into a small jug or a mug. Add 60 ml / ¼ cup orange juice and whisk both to combine. Add the grated orange zest (reserve roughly about a teaspoon of zest for the glaze) and mix again to combine. Set this mixture aside until needed.
Toss the cranberries in a little flour and place aside.
Cream the sugar with soft butter and add eggs (one at a time). Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl.
Tip half of the dry ingredients into the egg and sugar mixture, and whisk to combine.
Pour half of the orange juice mixture and mix to combine. Add the remaining flour, and finish off with adding the remaining orange juice mixture.
Lastly, fold in the cranberries, until they are well combined into the batter.
Scrape the batter into prepared baking tin and transfer to preheated oven.
Bake 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top, and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow the bake to cool completely, before drizzling it with the orange glaze.
- Nuts - add some chopped nuts to the batter. A handful of roasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even chestnuts will add a lovely flavour and an additional texture to this cranberry bread.
- Chocolate - you can mix in a handful of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate to the batter. White chocolate works particularly well with orange and cranberries, but milk or dark would also be great!
- Try different glaze/ drizzle - Why not swap the citrus glaze for some melted white chocolate, or your favourite type of buttercream?
If you love orange-flavoured bakes, but cranberries are perhaps not something you enjoy, check out my Chocolate Orange Cupcakes recipe!
- Electric hand mixer - Although it is possible to make this cranberry orange bread by hand, an electric mixer with traditional beaters will make the whole process much easier and quicker. You can also use the standing mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Loaf tin - This recipe works best in 1 lb loaf tin ( the dimensions of mine are H9 x W13.5 x D25cm), or a similar size loaf pan. You can also double this recipe, and bake it in 2 lb baking tin.
Store this orange cranberry loaf cake at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. It will stay moist and soft, but may dry out a little after that time.
This cranberry loaf is also suitable for freezing for up to 3 months. You can freeze individual slices, or a whole loaf. Thaw it at room temperature overnight.
You can, but I highly recommend sticking to fresh cranberries. Fresh cranberries will burst, as they bake, creating these beautiful and delicious pockets of sweet and tart puddles in the cake. If you only have dried cranberries, you may want to soak them in fresh orange juice (or your favourite festive tipple) to plump them up a bit more.
1 lb loaf pan will work best, but you can also use a round or square baking tin (8 inch), just remember to adjust the baking times (keep checking your bake after 20-25 minutes, as they will bake quicker in these types of tins).
When making this easy citrus glaze, start with adding only 1 tablespoon of orange juice. If you add too much liquid (juice), it will become thin and runny. There is nothing wrong with the thinner glaze, and some people actually prefer runnier consistency. Simply add more icing/ powdered sugar to make it thicker.
To pin this recipe and save it for later, use the button on the recipe card or on the photos above.
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Orange and Cranberry Loaf
- 1 lb loaf tin
- hand-held electric mixer or freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment
- 1 large orange, zest and juice
- 60 g soured cream
- 85 g unsalted butter, softened
- 185 g caster or granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 185 g plain/ all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 150 g fresh cranberries
For the glaze:
- 150 g icing/ powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest optional
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan). Grease the inside of the 1lb loaf tin with some butter, and dust the inside of it with the flour, tapping off any excess. Set aside.
- Reserve 1 tablespoon of orange juice, then pour the rest of it into a jug or a mug. Add the orange zest (reserve 1 teaspoon of zest if you'd like for the glaze), and mix it with soured cream (milk or yoghurt will also work). Set aside.1 large orange, zest and juice, 60 g soured cream
- In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and caster or granulated sugar, about 3 minutes. It doesn't have to be pale and fluffy, just well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl as and when needed.85 g unsalted butter, softened, 185 g caster or granulated sugar, 2 large eggs
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Add the flour in two separate additions, alternating with the orange juice mixture into the sugar and eggs. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl well after each addition.185 g plain/ all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- Toss the cranberries in ½ tablespoon of flour, then fold them into the batter using a spoon or spatula, until evenly distributed and combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf tin, smoothing the top with back of the spoon or spatula, and place in preheated oven.150 g fresh cranberries
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the baking tin for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the tin (you may want to run a knife around the edges of the cake to help to remove it from the tin), then transfer the cake into a wire rack to cool completely before topping with the glaze/ icing.
To make glaze/ icing:
- Place the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add 1- 2 tablespoon of orange juice and orange zest and mix to combine, until you have smooth icing at the desirable consistency (add more juice to thin it out, or more icing sugar, if you prefer thicker glaze).150 g icing/ powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 teaspoon orange zest
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Use fresh or frozen cranberries. If using frozen cranberries, there is no need to defrost them first.
- Start your citrus glaze with only 1 tablespoon of orange juice, and continue to add juice in small amounts (1 tsp), until you reach the desired consistency. For thicker glaze, add more icing sugar, for a thinner and runny glaze, add more liquid (juice).