I’ve taken my favorite tried and true orange cranberry bread recipe and made it healthier with whole wheat and lower sugar – but no one can tell a difference, it’s still amazing.
You’ll want to make this bread when you know you’ll have company or you just might finish it all yourself! This is one more of our best bread recipes – quick, yeast, and sourdough – that anyone can make.
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I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I was privileged to live with a family in college where I learned how to make some really good recipes. I still make many of them today – French beef stew (I think it’s the best stew out there!), Tex-Mex salad with ranch style beans, American-style French salad dressing, and this cranberry bread recipe are just a few.
This is what I learned as a 22-year old watching a mom feed her young family: food can be real though it doesn’t have to be fancy or hard to be good. Maybe this was the beginning for me of realizing simple real food is the best?
This mom wasn’t gourmet and she didn’t go in for much in the way of processed foods or convenience (except for her “special” cans of ranch-style beans!). She was trying to save money and feed her family (which included me and a few other college students at the time), so nothing was fancy but it was all filling and good.
And this cranberry bread is a case in point: oh, the days we’d come home to the smell of this freshly baked bread from the oven! And while it smells heavenly, the taste is out-of-this-world, too. The bright citrus flavors combine SO well with the cranberry (which is why I added it to this yummy homemade naturally sweetened cranberry sauce, too) and the nuts I always add (though they’re optional).
Over the years I have adapted the original recipe I copied down to use less sugar and 100% whole wheat flour in the form of pastry flour. I’ve found that you can easily use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all purpose flour in most recipes like quick breads, cookies, and muffins.
This really is one of my favorite bread recipes, though I usually only make it in the fall. And then after a year of not having it, I’m surprised all over again with how yummy it is! This is definitely a recipe you can feel great about gifting to friends and family – everyone loves it.
Cranberry Bread Recipe with Orange & Nuts
To make this cranberry bread recipe you simply stir together the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter until the mixture looks like cornmeal, pictured above.
Stir together the wet ingredients in a small cup and then pour them into the dry mixture, stirring just until moist. It’s okay to still see some pieces of flour since we’re going to be folding in the cranberries.
Do you wonder why some recipes specifically state to not stir batters like this too much? Me, too, so I did a bit of research and found it’s because of two reasons:
- We don’t want gluten to form in recipes using baking powder and soda – too much gluten formation results in tough doughs with “tunneling.” Gluten is formed when dough is heavily mixed or kneaded, or when the dough remains wet for a long period of time. Avoiding mixing it too much is one way of preventing gluten formation.
- Too much mixing can also cause the baking powder to go flat. Once the liquid hits the powder it starts it’s action, but a lot of stirring can pop all the bubbles you need.
Now, gently fold in the chopped cranberries and nuts if using.
This bread turns out great with both dried (pictured) and chopped fresh cranberries, which makes it adaptable to any season.
Tools & supplies used for this recipe:
- Kitchenaid Mixer
- Small glass measure
- Favorite flat spatula
- 9×5-inch loaf pan
- Metal cooling rack
- Whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- Unsweetened dried cranberries
Bake the bread in a greased pan and let cool a few minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.
Looking at these slices, you can probably see why I always start thinking about this bread in the fall and winter – can you just imagine a slice with a cup of tea or coffee on a gray, cold day? Hearty, filling, and full of flavor, this bread will make any day seem brighter.
Orange Cranberry Bread Recipe (100% Whole Wheat)
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup chopped cranberries either fresh or dried
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans optional
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan and coat with flour or sugar.
- In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Combine orange juice, zest, and egg in a small cup and pour into dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened.
- Fold in cranberries and nuts (if using) and spread into prepared pan.
- Bake in 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
Other Quick Breads You May Like:
- Healthy, Whole Wheat No Fail Zucchini Bread
- Garlic-Cheese Zucchini Bread
- Maple Sweetened Coconut Bread
- Cranberry Crumb Loaves or Muffins (uses leftover cranberry sauce!)
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