Tangy cranberries, sweet orange juice, and warm vanilla and almond extracts give this Cranberry Orange Bread an irresistible, bakery-style flavor. You’ll love this moist, tender loaf cake – and it’s so easy to make.
A Scrumptious, Gluten-Free Loaf Cake Recipe
Cranberry-orange is one of my favorite baking flavor profiles – are you a fan? If so, this recipe is sure to please, and it’s entirely gluten-free. This sweet, cranberry orange loaf cake has a bold flavor and decadent texture, but that’s not all: it also includes a homemade brown sugar and pecan topping that really takes the recipe to another level.
Whether you’re serving it up with a cup of coffee, taking it to a friend, or making it as part of a festive holiday brunch, you can’t go wrong. This cranberry orange bread is sure to be one of your new favorite bakes. Grab a bag of fresh cranberries, and let’s get baking!
The Ingredients You’ll Need
So what’s in this recipe? It’s a simple quick bread, made with gluten-free flour, coconut sugar, and a few other wholesome baking ingredients. The brown sugar-pecan topping is also made from scratch. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Cranberry Orange Bread
- Flour: You can use whatever gluten-free flour blend you like. Blends with xanthan gum are usually less crumbly, and more like a traditional loaf cake.
- Salt: I use kosher salt.
- Leaveners: A combination of baking powder and baking soda give the cake some lift, and keep it from being heavy and dense.
- Cranberries: Fresh cranberries.
- Egg: A large, whole egg helps to bind the bread batter together.
- Sweetener: I use coconut sugar for this recipe.
- Butter: Unsalted butter is my go-to. If you use salted butter, you may want to reduce the salt in the recipe by a pinch or two. Cut the butter into cubes, and let them soften.
- Orange Juice: Not-from-concentrate juice has the best flavor, but any kind will work.
- Flavorings: Vanilla extract and almond extract give this loaf a rich, bakery-style depth.
For the Pecan Topping
- Butter: A bit more unsalted butter brings the topping mixture together.
- Brown Sugar: I like the robust, molasses-y taste of dark brown sugar here. You could also use light brown sugar, if you prefer.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon gives the topping warmth and coziness. If you like, you could use a combination of cinnamon and other spices such as nutmeg, ginger, cloves, or allspice.
- Pecans: Fresh, chopped pecans.
Can I Use Dried Cranberries Instead of Fresh?
Technically, you can use dried cranberries instead of fresh ones, but you will need to use a smaller amount – about one cup and two tablespoons. Keep in mind that most dried cranberries are also sweetened, so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in the bread.
How to Make Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Bread
The method for making my gluten-free cranberry orange bread is straightforward: you make the batter, then the topping, and then you combine the two and bake until a cake tester comes out clean. You’ll want to dig right in, but there’s one more crucial step: letting the bread rest, for optimum texture.
Make the Batter
- Get Ready to Bake. First, make sure to preheat the oven to 350°F. The oven needs to be nice and hot by the time the cranberry orange bread is ready to bake, so that you can put it straight into the oven. Next, get your loaf pan ready. Line it with parchment paper, and butter it or spray it with baking spray.
- Combine the Dry Ingredients. Measure and whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cranberries. Toss the ingredients a bit so that the cranberries get well-coated in the dry mixture.
- Combine the Wet Ingredients. Use an electric mixer on medium speed (or a stand mixer) to beat the egg and sugar until well blended. Then add the butter, and mix to combine, followed by the vanilla, almond extract, and orange juice. Mix again.
- Add the Dry Mixture to the Wet Mixture. Lower the mixer speed to low (you don’t want flour going everywhere!) and gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Mix to fully combine. This batter will be quite thick, but that’s okay. Spread the batter into your prepared pan.
Make the Topping
- Heat the Topping Ingredients. To make the topping, start by melting the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the sugar, followed by the pecans. Let them cook in the sugar mixture for about 2 minutes, or until the topping is shiny and smooth, and the pecans are thickly coated.
- Top the Batter. Pour the topping carefully over the cake batter, and spread it out.
Bake the Cranberry Orange Bread
- Bake Uncovered, and then Cover with Foil. Place the cranberry orange bread into the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes uncovered. Then loosely tent the pan with foil, so that it can finish baking without over-browning. It should bake for another 30 minutes or so, until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool. Let the loaf rest for about 20 minutes, and then run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan. Use the parchment paper to lift it out of the pan without breaking it. Then place it on a rack or plate to cool for another hour before slicing and serving.
Recipe Tips and Variations
While this cranberry orange bread is very easy to whip up, I hope you’ll take a moment to read through these tips. They’ll help ensure a perfectly moist, satisfying loaf cake.
- Measuring: Measuring is crucial to keep the batter from being too dry or too wet, so be sure to do this step carefully. For dry ingredients, spoon them into your measuring cups and level off the top with the back of a knife.
- Cranberries: To keep the cranberries from sinking to the bottom of the loaf, be sure to toss them with the dry ingredients so they get coated. This coating will help them stay put!
- Thickness: Unlike some other quick breads, the batter for this one is very thick. You’ll need to spread it out in the loaf pan – an offset spatula or even just a large spoon will do the trick.
- Add Zest: For even more orange flavor, try adding a tablespoon or two of fresh orange zest.
Does Homemade Cranberry Bread Need to Be Refrigerated?
You do not have to refrigerate gluten-free cranberry orange bread. Just store it in an airtight container at room temperature. It will stay fresh for up to two days.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes! I love making a double batch of quick breads like this one, so I can freeze one for another time. You can freeze it in slices or as a whole loaf – just wrap it tightly either way, and place it in a freezer bag, or airtight container. Freeze for up to three months.
Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Bread
- 2 cups gluten free flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 large eggs
- 1 cups coconut sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cubed and softened
- ¾ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
Pecan topping (optional):
- 1/4 cup 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup pecans chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line 9” x 5” loaf pan, parchment paper and spray with baking spray or butter lightly.
- In a medium bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cranberries. Toss to coat cranberries and combine ingredients.
- With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg and sugar until blended. Add butter and mix again. Then add vanilla extract, almond extract, and orange juice. Mix again until fully blended.
- Lower the mixer speed to low, and slowly add in the flour mixture. The batter will be quite thick.
- Spread gently into the prepared pan.
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated. Spread over the cake batter.
- Bake for 30 minutes, and then tent the bread with foil to prevent over browning. Cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool for 20 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.