There’s something special about a moist, tender quick cranberry bread (that means you won’t need yeast) that’s rich with cream cheese, vanilla, orange and walnuts. Just try not to eat the whole loaf!Jump to Recipe
Sometimes you just need that bit of comfort–a house that smells of baked deliciousness and a big slice of bread that’s so moist you barely need that cup of coffee to go along with it.
Orange walnut cranberry bread ticks all the boxes for flavor, and has a moist, tender crumb that’s more like a pound cake than it is a quick bread and it just feels good to eat.
Do I need yeast to make this cranberry bread?
Nope. That’s what makes quick breads so easy! There’s no yeast and the bread rises with chemical learners like baking powder and soda. Buttermilk is also used here to react with the leavening agents so don’t skip it.
Can this bread be frozen?
Yes it freezes wonderfully. Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and two layers of foil and it will be fine in the freezer for up to two months. To thaw, just put it out on the counter for a day and you can also re-warm it in the oven.
Tips for the best cranberry bread
- Use fresh ingredients as indicated. Fresh cranberries are a must but they are only available between November and December so if you have some frozen those will work here. If you are just in a major pinch get dried ones and reconstitute them before using. You can see how to do that here.
- Make sure you keep the buttermilk in the recipe. It will react with the baking powder and soda for the proper rise.
- Use good quality fresh orange juice if you can. Feel free to add some of the zest if you’d like more of an orange punch.
- Use full fat cream cheese for ultimate richness and flavor
- Make sure to leave your parchment paper overhanging your loaf pan so it’s easier to lift out after it bakes.
Adjustments for special diets (gluten free, dairy free, less sugar)
I’ve used King Arthur’s 1:1 gluten free flour blend many times in cakes and quick breads with great success. If you are gluten free, definitely get your hands on a bag of this.
For dairy free folks, you can swap in a coconut yogurt that’s been drained overnight over some paper towels or cheese cloth to thicken it in place of the cream cheese.
You can also use a coconut oil shortening to blend with the sugar and walnuts for the topping and a blend of dairy free milk and vinegar or lemon juice in place of the buttermilk but know that it’s not going to taste like the original bread.
Coconut sugar is my preferred swap to lower the glycemic index of this bread. You can use it in a 1:1 swap for white sugar but know it will darken your dough’s color and add more of a brown sugar flavor to the bread. I wouldn’t recommend swapping in honey or maple syrup because you need the sugar crystals for the structure of the bread too–it’s not all just for sweetness.
Other quick breads you might like
Orange Walnut Cranberry Bread
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup sugar you can swap coconut sugar if you choose
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour gluten free flour blends like King Arthur 1:1 works here too
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/4 cup flavorless oil like avocado you can use vegetable oil if you choose
- 1 cup fresh cranberries washed, stems and squishy ones removed
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup walnuts chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper long enough to cover both long sides and the bottom and leave some tails hanging over for easier removal. Spray the short ends well with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix the egg, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. About 2 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, mix the buttermilk, orange juice, and oil.Using a hand mixer, alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixture to the eggs and cream cheese 1/3 at a time, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Set aside.
- Toss the cranberries with 1/2 tablespoon flour. (This prevents them from sinking in the batter.)Fold the berries in to the batter and pour into your prepared loaf pan.
- In a bowl (you can use the one your flour was in) cut the butter into the brown sugar using your fingers two forks or a pasty blender until it's the size of small peas. Stir in the walnuts.
- Sprinkle the butter mixture over the top of the bread and bake uncovered 45-50 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You can cover your bread with foil if it's getting too dark halfway through.
- Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan then run a knife along all the edges and transfer to a wire rack to cool.Store in plastic wrap for up to 4 days on the counter or chill in the fridge.