January is a great time for New Year’s resolutions. But after that first week of healthier eating, trips to the gym, and frugal spending has worn off, the winter season can start to feel a little cold, gray, and bleak.
But I do have two things to look forward to in January: clementines and cranberries in season. These tasty treats still cling to that Christmas spirit long after you’ve packed away the tree and thrown away the old wrapping paper.
I couldn’t wait to put clementines and cranberries in my latest loaf of bread, and I’m so happy that I did. The subtle orange flavor compliments the tart cranberry flavor, and the bread melts in your mouth. Add a little icing and you have a winter dessert worthy of Christmas but without the need for an actual holiday.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Rise time: None
Cook time: 50-60 minutes
Total time: Approximately 1 Hour 15 minutes (Plus 2 hours of cooling time)
Here’s what you’ll want to make this bread:
- 1 1/2 Cups Dried Cranberries
- 2 Teaspoons Orange Zest*
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- 2/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla
- 4 Eggs
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 2/3 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
*I used zest from clementines. But you can use regular oranges or even lemons if that’s what you have on hand.
This recipe can make 1 large loaf, 2 medium loaves, or 4 mini loaves. Feel free to scale back (or double) the recipe as needed.
This isn’t an artisan-style bread recipe, so you don’t need any fancy tools or equipment to make this bread. You will, however, need a few standard items:
- Small and Large Mixing Bowls
- Wooden Mixing Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- 8-inch by 4-inch Bread Pan*
- Cooling Rack
This festive and fun bread comes together with almost no effort at all. In just a few steps, you can have delicious cranberry-orange bread ready to eat.
Move oven rack to lowest position to prevent the top of your bread from burning before the rest of it has finished baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease the bottom of your pans (or pan).
In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients: milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together: flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients. Then, stir in the cranberries and zest. Or, just toss everything in the same bowl at once like I did. It still turned out fine.
Pour the batter into your pan.
Your baking time will vary depending on the size pan you use:
- One 9-inch by 5-inch pan will cook for about 1 hour and 10 minutes
- Two 8-inch by 4-inch pans will cook for about 50 minutes
- Four 5-inch pans will cook for about 40 minutes
But no matter which pan you use, keep a close eye on your bread to make sure the tops don’t burn. If the tops look golden brown, insert a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, your bread is done!
Let your bread cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pans. Allow the bread to cool completely (about 2 hours) on a wire rack before you cut and serve your bread.
If you feel particularly indulgent, pipe buttercream icing over your bread after it has cooled. Then place a few dried cranberries on top for decoration.
Secrets to Success
After my lemon poppyseed fiasco, I worried about my cranberry orange bread. I wasn’t sure if I’d lose the bottom to my bread like I did with almost every other sweet bread I’ve tried.
But my husband bought me some new bread pans for Christmas, and I was excited to christen my pans with this new recipe. Lo and behold, my bread DID NOT STICK. Not once. I want to shout for joy with each success loaf.
If you struggle to get your bread out of your pans, take a few minutes to consider the quality of your pans rather than the quality of your recipe. I had my old bread pans for years and years, and I had assumed that I was a terrible baker as a result of my failed bread-making ventures. With new pans, I feel like a pro!
Unfortunately, new pans do not guarantee that your piping will be a success. I made some buttercream frosting using the following recipe:
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Butter (Softened)
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon Milk
I used a hand mixer to combine everything until it became really thick. I had never piped before, so I thought thick frosting would stick to my bread better. It did not.
I still laugh at this picture. I could not spread the frosting at all, so I patted it with my fingers and my attempts to fix the appearance made it even worse.
The second time around, I added a lot more milk until the icing because runny enough to work with. I spooned it into a Ziplock bag, trimmed a corner, and practiced piping on a piece of parchment paper until I felt more confident. The second time around went much better, though my piping is still a little messy. I’m sure with more practice I’ll get better.
On an unrelated side note for success, you can use fresh cranberries for this recipe. I like the chewiness of dried cranberries, but fresh berries lend a stronger flavor. To keep your cranberries from sinking to the bottom of your bread, rinse and dry them and toss them in the flour before adding them to the rest of the batter.
I couldn’t believe how much weight I gained over the holidays. But then, of course, I realized that I had eaten savory and sweet breads with reckless abandon. As part of my New Year’s resolution, I would love to lose some of the extra pounds, so I’m keeping track of nutritional information.
Here’s what you need to know about cranberry orange bread:
As with all my other recipes, my nutritional information isn’t as precise as the labels you’d find in a store. I guess based on online calculators. Your bread may vary depending on the size of your slices and whether you pipe frosting onto your bread.
Did You Try It?
I had a lot of fun making this recipe. I had never done piping before, and I was pleased with the overall look (and taste) of my cranberry orange bread. But I’d love to see what you do with this recipe. Did you try it with fresh or dried cranberries? Did you add a pinch of nutmeg for warmth? Perhaps you’d like to show off your piping skills?
Don’t hesitate to share your experience in the comments!