Make this easy cranberry orange bread with fresh or frozen cranberries for a sweet-tart brightness, then top it with a cinnamon streusel and an orange glaze to make it extra special. This is a quick bread that's perfect for your holiday table and gift giving!
[October, 2020: I've reworked the recipe and updated this post with all new pictures. Enjoy!]
Why this recipe works
- Uses fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries for sweet, tart flavor
- It's an easy quick bread recipe that comes together in a snap
- Perfect for the holidays or gift giving
I've rediscovered my fondness for the taste of fresh cranberries.
They're readily available in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and on through the December holidays, but you don't really see them outside that time.
But I love cooking, and especially baking, with fresh cranberries because of their burst of sweet-tart flavor. Cranberry Sauce? Much better made with fresh cranberries, and a whole lot better than the canned stuff, to be sure!
I just like to give fresh cranberries a chance to shine, and a Glazed Orange Cranberry Bread really allows those fresh cranberries to show off. It's another showstopper of the Autumn baking season.
What you need
Oranges and cranberries are made for each other. The citrus sweetness balances the cranberries' tartness perfectly. And the sweet orange glaze brings it all together.
I add Fiori di Sicilia to scent the bread and glaze with a subtle orange vanilla essence. If you prefer, you can substitute one teaspoon of vanilla extract and two teaspoons of orange zest in the batter.
I also use sweet cream buttermilk powder rather than fresh. I normally don't have fresh buttermilk on hand, and this staple keeps well in my pantry. Don't worry if you don't have the buttermilk powder or fresh buttermilk available. I'll give you a couple of substitution ideas below.
This easy cranberry orange bread recipe also has the added bonus of a cinnamon streusel because, well...it's streusel! It adds a nice texture to this sweet, moist cake. And for added crunch, you can add ½ cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the batter.
How to make cranberry bread
Step 1: Make the streusel topping
Making the streusel topping is very similar to making biscuits. Start with a flour mixture, then add butter until you get something resembling pea-sized crumbs (photo 1).
It's important to keep the streusel chilled after you make it. This keeps it from melting into the batter while the bread is baking. Just keep it in the refrigerator while you make the cake batter.
Step 2: Make the batter
Whisk together the flour, buttermilk powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the cranberries, and set aside (photo 2).
Whisk the egg lightly, then add in brown sugar and granulated sugar together until it's smooth (with no lumps of brown sugar hiding in there). Whisk in the water, oil, orange juice, and Fiori di Sicilia (photo 3).
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, trying not to overmix the batter (photo 4).
Step 3: Bake the bread
After you've poured the quick bread batter into your prepared pan, crumble the chilled streusel topping evenly and press it down gently so it sticks but doesn't melt as the bread bakes.
Bake at 350°F for 45 to 60 minutes, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to ensure even browning (photo 5).
Step 4: Make the glaze
When the bread has cooled, it's time to make the glaze. I sift the powdered sugar first so I don't have to chase down lumps. Add 1 tablespoon of the orange juice along with the Fiori di Sicilia and stir until you get a thick glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bread and allow to set a few minutes (photo 6).
It's fun to let the glaze drip off the sides of the bread, but not to clean up the counter after. Put a paper towel under the cooling rack to catch the drips. Whether you choose to try and sample them is entirely up to you. I won't judge.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
In the US, fresh cranberries are harvested in the Fall, and are usually available in the grocery stores from September to January. You'll find them either fresh or frozen.
If you can't find fresh cranberries, you can always substitute one cup dried cranberries, like I did for my Glazed Orange Cranberry Scones.
Pro Tip for replacing fresh buttermilk in recipes
As I said earlier, I don't keep fresh buttermilk on hand as I don't use it that often.
That's why I like using sweet cream buttermilk powder. I can whisk the dry powder in with the dry ingredients, then add the correct amount of water in with the wet. The flavor is as close to fresh buttermilk as you can get.
If that's not an option for you, there are two ways to replace one cup of fresh buttermilk in a recipe:
- Whisk ½ cup cold water with ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt until smooth
- Measure one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup, then add enough milk until it reaches one cup. Stir and let the mixture sit for five minutes
The flavor may not be exactly like fresh buttermilk, but the acid needed to activate baking soda is present, and many times that's all you really are looking to get.
Make Orange Cranberry Bread for yourself or for gift giving
Glazed Orange Cranberry Bread is wonderfully moist and delicious. Sweet orange aroma surrounds you while the bright cranberries add bursts of their sweet-tart goodness. The glaze brings orange and vanilla to the mix, and the cinnamon streusel adds just the right amount of spice.
Together, all these flavors make one yummy treat for brunch or dessert. Plus, it's pretty to boot!
This bread stays fresh at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, you can freeze the unglazed bread for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving.
To make muffins with this batter, just fill the wells of a standard muffin pan ⅔ full. Top with the streusel as above, then bake at 350°F for around 20 minutes. Allow to cool and glaze.
Baking for the holidays
One December, I brought this Glazed Orange Cranberry Bread into work. Hey, I was new on the job and I wanted them to like me. It got rave reviews!
One of my co-workers actually said, "My Mother-in-law makes Cranberry Bread every year at Christmas, but I didn't like hers at all. I didn't think I liked Cranberry Bread, but I love this one!"
I replied, "I promise I won't tell her."
With that ringing endorsement, I encourage you to give this yummy tea bread a try. It will brighten your holidays and bring joy to your heart (or to your mouth, which is even better).
Wishing everyone a sweet, delicious holiday season. May good aromas come from your oven!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Most quick bread & muffin recipes can be made as bundt cakes, and vice versa.
Other options using a recipe that makes one loaf in a standard loaf pan are 4 mini breads in mini loaf pans, 12 muffins in a standard muffin pan, or 24 muffin bites in a mini muffin pan. Great for breakfast or gift giving!
You can also adjust the recipe you're using (doubling or halving it) to fit the pan you'd like to use. Don't be limited to one shape for a recipe!
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star ⭐️ rating in the recipe card below ⬇️ and/or a comment further down the page.
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Easy Glazed Orange Cranberry Bread
For the streusel
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
For the bread batter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons sweet cream buttermilk powder, see Recipe Notes
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw), see Recipes Notes
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
- 1 cup water, see Recipe Notes
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- ½ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, see Recipe Notes
- ½ cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped, optional
For the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a standard loaf pan with baking spray.
- Make the streusel: Whisk the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Cut in the cold butter using a fork or your hands until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs. Place the streusel in the refrigerator while you make the batter. Chilling keeps it from melting into the batter while the bread is baking.
- Make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, buttermilk powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in the cranberries, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg lightly, then add in brown sugar and granulated sugar together until it's smooth (with no lumps of brown sugar hiding in there). Whisk in the water, oil, orange juice, and Fiori di Sicilia.
- Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until there are no more lumps, trying not to overmix the batter. Fold in the chopped pecans or walnuts, if using.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top evenly with the streusel, pressing it down gently into the top of the bread so it sticks.
- Bake the bread for 45 to 60 minutes, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to ensure even browning. Use a cake tester or toothpick to check for doneness...if it comes out clean, the bread is done.
- Remove the pan from oven and cool on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on the rack.
- Make the glaze: In a small bowl, sift the powdered sugar to remove any lumps. Add 1 tablespoon of the orange juice along with the Fiori di Sicilia and stir until you get a thick glaze. Adjust the consistency by adding more orange juice as needed. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled bread and allow to set a few minutes.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
- This bread stays fresh at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, you can freeze the unglazed bread for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before glazing and serving.
- Substitute a mixture of ½ cup cold water and ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
- Measure 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup, then add enough milk until it reaches 1 cup. Stir and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
- Muffins: Fill the wells of a standard muffin pan ⅔ full. Top with the streusel as above, then bake at 350°F for around 20 minutes. Allow to cool and glaze.
- Bundt Cake or Mini Tea Breads: Spray a small bundt cake pan or mini bread pan with baking spray, being careful to get into all the grooves. A bundt cake will bake for 35 to 45 minutes, while mini loaves will bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Perfect for gift giving!