Cranberry Bread with a Blast of Orange

Studded with cranberries and fragrant with orange rind and juice, this bread is an ideal accompaniment to holiday meals. It is not too early to accumulate a few recipes with the holidays in mind and Christine Hessert of Bangor who bakes breads for large family gatherings sent this recipe along. Remember Christine’s Chocolate Date Nut bread last holiday season? Well, this is another in her repertoire. “I’ve made it each Thanksgiving for fifty-odd years. I’ve never had a cranberry bread that I thought was better,” she wrote.

Christine used to chop the cranberries by hand, she wrote, but now pulses them in a food processor. Good move. Here is a hint: you can use the food processor to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, then dump that out into a mixing bowl, then chop the cranberries up in the same processor bowl to add to the mixing bowl after you add the orange juice and egg to the dry ingredients.

At first, I thought that the whole cup of sugar would make the loaf too sweet, but cranberries are tart enough to offset it. I like using chopped pecans because I find walnuts are a bit bitter.  And make sure you scrape the zest off the orange before squeezing it for the needed juice. If you have no oranges, you can used dried orange zest and good old o.j. straight from the carton.

What a great addition to the festive table, either at Thanksgiving where perhaps there might be a cranberry and orange relish, or for Christmas, perhaps at breakfast with coffee while opening stockings.

Cranberry Orange Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 well beaten egg
  • ¾ cup orange juice (about two oranges)
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • 2 cups chopped cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter, then combine the egg, orange juice and orange zest.
  4. Pour into the dry ingredients and butter mixture and combine well. Dough will be stiff.
  5. Fold in the chopped cranberries and nuts.
  6. Spread in a nine by five loaf pan, leaving the center slightly higher.
  7. Bake for one hour.
  8. Let cool for ten minutes before removing from pan.
  9. Store overnight before slicing.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.