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, 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 – OR dried cranberries
- Orange zest for the bread and the glaze
- Orange juice (fresh or bottled) for the glaze
- Homemade cinnamon streusel
Baking science // nerd 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 people 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 a DIY 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.
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!
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.
Next up? Orange glaze. Made from just orange juice, orange zest, and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the bread right before serving.
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! And the streusel and glaze are both optional.
Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. ♥
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.
- 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 (do not thaw)1
- optional: 1/2 cup (65g) chopped pecans
- 1 large egg, at room temperature2
- 1/2 cup (105g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 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 350°F (177°C). 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. Go for pea-size crumbs.
- 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. Do not overmix.
- 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.
- Slice and serve. Bread stays fresh at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 6-7 days.
- Make ahead tip: For longer storage, you can freeze the unglazed bread for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving.
- 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, place in a cup of warm water for 5 minutes.
Make muffins! You can make muffins with this cranberry orange quick bread batter. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for around 20 minutes.
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A few more of my favorite recipes to enjoy this time of year…
Orange Sweet Rolls— every Christmas morning!
Salted Pecan Pie Tarts – I can’t get enough. LOVE these.
Today Kevin and I are having our engagement photos taken! I’ll be sure to share some when our photographer is finished with them. I can’t wait.