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Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

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Merry and bright bread.

The best holiday loaf cake? Step right up to this easy cranberry orange nut bread recipe: a sweet, super-moist orange cranberry cake that bakes up in a loaf pan and looks as good as it tastes. 

frontal slice of cranberry orange nut loaf cake on white platter

The beauty of a simple pound cake lies in its simplicity and ability to adapt to different ingredients.

When the holidays roll around, this sweet buttermilk loaf cake studded with fresh cranberries, raisins, and walnuts is exact right thing to bake: a cranberry orange nut bread recipe that’s easy, moist, and festive.

whole cranberry orange nut bread with holiday christmas greens

Adapting Maida Heatter’s Cranberry Nut Loaf Recipe

This recipe is adapted from “queen of cake” Maida Heatter, who featured a cranberry nut loaf in one of her cookbooks. I thought the recipe seemed a bit dense, so I increased the baking powder a bit, added vanilla extract, and threw in golden raisins as a sweet counterpoint to the fresh, tart cranberries.

ingredients for cranberry nut orange bread raisins flour vanilla eggs

I love the result of this festive, frankly gorgeous, cranberry orange nut bread. It may look like a simple loaf cake from the top, but cut into it and behold: a moist vanilla pound cake studded with juicy, ruby cranberries, raisins, and nuts.

cranberry cake batter in loaf pan with orange and nuts

Orange Cranberry Nut Loaf Cake: Recipe Notes

  • This makes a very large and substantial orange cranberry bread. If can also be divided into two standard loaf pans. The baking time for divided loaves will be 50 minutes to one hour or so.
  • The fresh cranberries, while beautifully ruby pink, are quite tart — albeit set off by the sweetness of the pound cake. If you would like a sweeter cranberry, use dried, sweetened cranberries. But be sure to soak them in warm water along with the raisins.
  • Always soak your dried fruit before baking, such as with raisins. This softens them and prevents them from drawing moisture from the cake batter. A solid 10 to 15 minutes in warm water will do it. Then drain and add to the cake batter.

white platter of slice cranberry orange nut bread loaf cake with holiday christmas greens

Love this orange cranberry nut loaf bread recipe? You’ll also like:

white platter of slice cranberry orange nut bread with holiday christmas greens

Holiday Cranberry Orange Nut Loaf

A sweet, easy holiday cranberry orange nut loaf quick bread recipe, studded with fresh cranberries and nuts for a sweet, tart treat.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, english
Keywords:: cake, christmas, cranberry, cranberry loaf cake, easy, holiday, maida heatter, orange cranberry bread, pound cake, thanksgiving
Servings: 1 pound cake loaf


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water

For the Glaze

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from above orange)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a standard size loaf pan.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest on medium until lightened and emulsified, about two minutes. Add the buttermilk and mix.
  • Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and mix just until combined. Stir in the cranberries, raisins, and nuts.
  • Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes or so, until the top springs back and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool fully.

Glaze the Cake

  • Make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and juice from 1/2 of the orange until smooth. Half an orange should equal about 1/4 cup of juice. It will be fine if it's a little scant.
  • Place a sheet pan underneath the cooling rack to catch the excess glaze. Pour the glaze over the cake, letting it run down the sides. Let harden and serve.


  • Steve Kay

    This recipe looks delightful, but rather than soaking the raisins in water, I suggest that the raisins be soaked in a bit of the orange juice (there is plenty that is not being used in the glaze or some brandy or rum. This brings a little extra flavor to the party.
    I do this in every single baked recipe that calls for dried fruit of any kind.

  • Denise Greco

    5 stars
    I shudder when I see anything with raisins in it – can I omit them? If so, what can I add in lieu of?

    • Unpeeled

      Of course! You can definitely leave them out. I think the recipe works fine without them, but you could always add a little more nuts, or another chopped dried fruit like candied ginger or apricots might be nice.

  • Porter3455

    5 stars
    This is sooo good Made exactly as is except I have 4 large Pecan trees so I used pecans instead of walnuts. I’m wondering if they would work for cupcakes. YUMM!!

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, there! You definitely can make cupcakes from these. I find that cupcakes generally take around 20-25 minutes to bake, but start checking at around 18 minutes. Also: You have pecan trees?! Wow–that is very cool. Enjoy.

  • 5 stars
    Turned out very well.

  • Karen Bobik Martyn

    Can this be frozen without deteriorating the quality?

    • Unpeeled

      Absolutely. It freezes very well! You can defrost at room temperature.

  • 5 stars
    Fun to make and it is just so pretty, too.

  • 5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was moist and I enjoyed the bright flavor from the citrus and cranberry. Easy to make. Thank you.

  • E. Randall

    5 stars
    A great Christmas loaf cake. I divided this into two loaves and gave one to my neighbor.

  • Olivia M.

    5 stars
    moist and nice and tart!

4.60 from 10 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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