Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread.
Moist & flavorful cranberry bread packed with orange zest, light cinnamon streusel, and an orange glaze.
If you’ve ever sunk your teeth into a dry, bland piece of cranberry bread or muffin – I feel your pain. But don’t let that discourage you from the possibility of one fantastic baked good.
I recently visited a local coffee shop and while it’s known to have outstanding lattes and chocolate croissants, their cranberry bread was a flavorless, crumbly mess. I don’t even know why I wasted my $4; I can make this festive loaf at home. And make it even better (and cheaper!), thank you very much.
The next morning, I put my thinking cap on. How can I create a flavorful, moist, tart, sweet cranberry quick bread at home? Surely there must be orange since the flavors pair so wonderfully together. And cinnamon-streusel on top. And glaze. Oh yes, there had to be glaze!
I took a look through my recipe archive and remembered this Cinnamon Swirl Chocolate Chip Bread. You love this recipe! I do too – I look forward to making it again over Thanksgiving. I always need a good cinnamon swirl in my life.
I used that bread as the starter for this cranberry version. When you have a great “base” recipe, it’s easy to build off of it and create new and exciting flavors. To that basic quick bread batter, I added orange zest, tart cranberries, pecans (optional!), streusel, and a cascading orange glaze on top. Meet the moistest cranberry bread ever.
So lush. So flavorful.
Making this holiday favorite is quite easy. Simple enough to prepare between all your holiday errands, chores, decorating, and Christmas music dancing in your living room.
What? You don’t do that?
Here are a few essentials you’ll need:
- Chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed) - OR dried cranberries
- Orange zest for the bread and the glaze
- Orange juice (fresh or bottled) for the glaze
- Homemade cinnamon streusel (more on that below!)
Baking science alert:
Another main ingredient you absolutely 100% need for your bread is buttermilk. Don’t try to substitute the buttermilk with anything! Why?
Buttermilk is what makes some of my cakes, cupcakes, and breads so darn moist. But that’s not the only reason I use it today: the lactic acid present in buttermilk is what will allow the baking soda to produce the leavening gas (carbon dioxide).
Most folks don’t typically keep buttermilk in the house. I know I wouldn’t if I didn’t bake for a living. Save yourself a trip to the store and make your own buttermilk at home. Measure 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.
I like to use oil as the fat in this quick bread recipe, not butter. Butter is a fat that gives unbeatable flavor, but nothing beats the moisture that oil brings – especially to muffins, cakes, and quick breads. There is so much flavor in this bread from the orange, streusel, glaze, and cranberries that the flavor from butter would get lost anyway.
Put that mixer away because you won’t need a mixer for the entire recipe. When mixing the batter, mix the dry and wet ingredients together gently. Overmixing your batter will develop the gluten and will result in a tough textured bread. Just mix the wet and dry ingredients together until *just* combined. Once mixed, pour the batter into a loaf pan and top with streusel.
The streusel is optional. I can’t believe I just typed that. In my world, streusel is never optional. But surprisingly enough, this bread would still be as dazzling without it. Streusel is my middle name (at least it should be), so I took the opportunity to make some. The streusel is only a few everyday ingredients: cold butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. That’s all. Crumble it all together and press gently on top of the batter before going into the oven:
The bread can take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour in the oven. Why the huge gap of time? All ovens are different. Oven air flows, oven hot spots, etc. Breads are thick and having the center baked through properly takes time.
Two tips that are universal to all ovens:
1) Buy an oven thermometer. They’re inexpensive and will control the temperature in your oven. I was shocked to learn that my oven runs almost 20 degrees warmer than what the dial states. That has a HUGE effect on your food baking properly.
2) Cover your bread loosely with aluminum foil. I note that in the instructions below as a reminder. The foil will allow your bread to bake evenly on all sides and prevent the top from getting too brown before the center bakes through.
Keep an eye on the bread after 45 minutes. Poke the center with a toothpick and the moment it comes out clean from crumbs, your bread is done.
Don’t you just want to reach through and steal that entire loaf?!
It’s not done yet. You need some zingy orange glaze. Made from just orange juice, orange zest, and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the bread right before serving.
The bread is literally orange from all the orange zest in the batter. And the zest makes each thick bite so flavorful!
Like banana bread or carrot cake, I found this bread’s flavors and “moist” factor were more prominent on day 2. Don’t get me wrong… the bread is fan-freaking-tastic the day it’s baked, but I especially enjoyed it the next morning. This makes it a perfect treat to serve to guests. You can make it the evening before, then drizzle immediately before serving the next day. I prefer the bread at room temperature, but it’s just tasty served warm. Or even cold (try it!).
I’m so relieved to have my dry, flavorless cranberry bread memory washed away. This bread fixes it all. Sweet, tart, zingy glaze, cinnamon-y streusel, moist interior. Holiday perfection!
Don’t be overwhelmed by the ingredient list. Most of the ingredients are repeats of each other.
The streusel and glaze are both optional.
Orange Glazed Cranberry Bread
Moist and tender orange cranberry bread with buttery streusel and a zingy orange glaze. Perfect for guests or with a warm cup of tea in the early morning or afternoon.
Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes plus cooling
- 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, cold
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (accurately measured)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (110g) chopped cranberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)*
- 1/2 cup (65g) chopped pecans, optional
- 1 large egg, at room temperature*
- 1/2 cup (105g) light brown sugar (or dark brown)
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk (no substitutions)
- 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil (or canola; or melted coconut oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons orange zest
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners' sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons orange juice
- as much orange zest as you want
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. I prefer a dark metal loaf pan, which seems to help brown quick breads more evenly.
Make the streusel first: Toss the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter, your hands, or two forks. Some large crumbs are OK. See photos of streusel above for visual. Set aside.
Make the bread: In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, salt, cranberries, and pecans together until combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until combined. Make sure there are no brown sugar lumps remaining. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until there are no more lumps. Try very hard not to overmix, which will result in a tough textured bread.
Pour the batter into prepared loaf pan. Top evenly streusel, pressing the streusel down gently into the top of the bread so it sticks.
Bake the bread for 45 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to ensure even browning. Poke the center of the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. Oven times will vary between ovens. My bread took 59 minutes exactly. Allow bread to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and orange juice together. Add more orange juice depending how thick you want the glaze. Whisk in orange zest and drizzle over cooled bread.
Unglazed bread stays fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for 6-7 days. Glazed bread must be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*1 cup dried cranberries may be used instead of fresh/frozen.
*Room temperature egg is highly suggested for this bread. It will disburse more evenly when mixed. To bring the egg to room temperature quickly, drop into a cup of warm water for 5 minutes.
*Make Ahead: Make the bread 1 day in advance and drizzle with glaze immediately before serving.
*You can make muffins with this batter at 350F, but I am unsure of the baking time.
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A few more of my favorite recipes to enjoy this time of year…
Today Kevin and I are having our engagement photos taken! They’ve been rescheduled twice because of the weather. I’m very excited to wear my new sparkly shoes. I’ll be sure to share some when our photographer is finished with them.