Gently warmed and slathered with butter, this cranberry bread tastes like Christmas morning to me. The flavor is sweet yet tart, and the look beautiful thanks to the cranberries studded throughout. My mother makes this cranberry bread pretty much every Christmas. The idea is based on her Swedish grandmother’s habit of making breads with dried fruit around the holidays.
When she noticed cranberries on sale at Thanksgiving many years ago, my ever-frugal mother decided to try them in a bread. Slipped into a plastic bags tied with a handsome bow, a this lovely fruit-studded cranberry bread makes a lovely holiday hostess gift. It’s also a nice addition to a traditional holiday menu, plus it can offer a nice alternative to cranberry sauce. It’s the bomb when used with leftover turkey for sandwiches.
Walnuts are an obvious seasonal choice for nuts here, but I’ve used almonds and pecans with great success. Although my husband, Mike, doesn’t like nuts in baked goods. It’s a texture thing, so I typically leave them out if making any for us. This makes one standard-size loaf, three or four mini loaves or about a dozen cranberry bread muffins. I’ve become a little obsessed with silicon baking gear, so last year I made this recipe into batches of muffins and handed out four each to friends with the recipe printed on a little card and a silicon muffin tray as a gift.
Recipe: Mom’s Cranberry Bread
- loaf pan or muffin tray
- 2 cups (230 g) fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (150 g) chopped nuts optional
- 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
- 4 cups (500g) all purpose flour
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 tablespoons shortening, vegan butter or unsalted butter
- 1 1/5 cups orange juice
- 3 eggs well beaten
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Generously grease and lightly flour a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans. If using this recipe to make muffins, line a muffin tin with parchment or paper cups.Prepare cranberries, nuts (if using) and orange peel. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda. Cut in shortening, vegan butter or butter to incorporate it in the bowl. Stir in orange juice, egg and orange peel mixing just to moisten. Fold in the prepared cranberries and nuts using a spatula. Spoon into a prepared pan up to about halfway up. For a loaf, bake 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. For mini loaves or muffins, baked for 25 minutes and then check with a toothpick. Cool on rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely. Wrap and store overnight.
This post was originally published in 2014; it has been updated. As with all my posts, it may contain affiliate links. Photo by Brent Hofacker.
I don’t generally use shortening in recipes. Could butter or veg/olive oil be used instead?
The shortening has a certain fat content in it that will make a difference in the outcome; if you use oil the result may be flatter, if that makes any sense.