Delicious cranberry crumb loaves or muffins are made with dried cranberries and your choice of fresh berries OR leftover cranberry sauce for double the cranberry flavor. Wrapped and tied with a ribbon, this sweet bread makes a great holiday food gift.
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Oh, goodness these cranberry crumb loaves are so amazingly delicious - whether you make them as loaves or muffins! Even though I've been making them for years - usually at the holidays because they make such great gifts - and it's always a case of "Wow, I always forget how good these are!"
You know those simple recipes that use real food pantry ingredients and have not-super-exciting names like 'cranberry crumb loaves,' but then blow you away with their flavor, texture, and all around yumminess? Yeah, this is that kind of recipe.
And if you're not feeling the "loaf" part of the recipe, go ahead and make muffins anytime - regular size or mini, they'll be welcomed for breakfast or snacks any time of the year.
Make Cranberry Crumb Loaves or Muffins
I've always loved that this recipe uses both dried and fresh cranberries because it doubles the lovely tart berry flavor. But I've adapted it to also use up leftover cranberry sauce, so there are two ways you can make these. The photos here all show the bread with a cranberry sauce filling, but in the full printable recipe you'll find directions on how to use chopped, fresh cranberries instead (you basically fold them gently in with the dried berries, being careful not to get streaks from too much stirring).
The other great thing about this recipe is that the topping is made as part of the quick bread dry ingredients - you just scoop out the specified amount before adding the remaining ingredients. So easy.
To use cranberry sauce: partially fill the pans with batter, add a spoonful (or more for loaves) of cranberry sauce to the centers and then evenly top with remaining batter, swirling and covering with a knife. As you can see from the top photo above, it doesn't have to cover perfectly - especially because they will be covered with wonderful crumbs.
Baking Pans Needed for this Cranberry Crumb Loaves and Muffins Recipe:
As much as I don't like to keep a lot of tools or one-use gadgets in my kitchen (check out what I do use and love here), I do like having a small 4-loaf pan which makes it so much easier to bake a number of small loaves. I have used this mini 8-loaf pan in the past (which I think makes perfect sized gift loaves), though for this recipe I was able to use this bigger 4-cup, 4-loaf pan, which you see in the photos.
For this recipe, you only fill any pan you use half full (to leave room for the topping), so I was also able to make 6 muffins along with the four loaves (which you'll also get if you used the 8 mini loaf pan). The recipe will also makes these sizes, as well, so you've got choices:
I like to sprinkle a little sugar on the inside of loaf pans after greasing - and even the bottoms of the muffin liners - so the outsides are just as good as the crumb tops. It's a little thing that makes sweet breads that much better.
Oh, and that great texture and moistness comes from the addition of sour cream (or yogurt) - doesn't that look good? While they do make good gifts, I do have to say that it sure is hard to give them away!
Cranberry Crumb Loaves & Muffins Recipe
- 1 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3½ cup flour divided (your choice: all whole wheat pastry flour, 1/2 unbleached and 1/2 regular whole wheat, or all unbleached)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries chopped OR 3/4 c. to 1 c. prepared cranberry sauce
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or sugar) 6 disposable mini loaf pans (5-3/4x 3-1/4), 18 muffin cups (or use muffin liners), or equivalent.*
- Beat butter and 1/2 cup each white and brown sugars in a large mixing bowl on low speed until blended. Scraping sides as needed, beat in 2 cups of the flour until crumbly.
- Remove 1½ cups to a small bowl and add the cinnamon. Mix until blended and set aside.
- To mixture left in bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, sour cream/yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low until mixed; increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes or until smooth.
- Add the remaining 1½ cups flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Beat just until blended.
- Fold in both the cranberries and spoon the dough into the prepared pans.
- Crumble the reserved topping onto the tops (if using individual loaf pans, place them on a cookie sheet to easily move them in and out of the oven).
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean (only 20 minutes for regular muffins) - the toothpick test works when using cranberry sauce, too, there should be no doughy particles, though there may be a bit of sauce.
- Remove to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from pans to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- 8-loaf mini pan + 6 regular muffins
- 4-loaf small pan + 6 regular muffins
- 6 disposable mini loaf pans + 4 regular muffins
- 18 regular muffins
- 2 medium loaf pans (8"x4")
- 48 mini muffins
Note: this recipe was originally published in January of 2010 and has been updated with all new photos, clearer formatting and fully printable recipe.
Other quick breads you may like:
This article is part of the 8 Weeks of Christmas Ideas series where you’ll find resources for cooking, gift ideas, time savers, recipes, traditions & more all November and December through the 24th.
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