What Is Cranberry Bread?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Cranberry bread is a sweet bread which contains cranberries, small, tart red fruits which are indigenous to North America. It is a kind of quick bread, or a bread which contains a fast-acting rising agent rather than yeast. In addition to cranberries and a leavening agent, cranberry bread usually contains a combination of flour, sugar, oil, eggs, salt, and spices. Some cooks opt to enhance the bread’s flavor through the addition of other fruits or nuts. Since cranberry season usually falls during late autumn and early winter, some people associate cranberry bread with the holiday season.

As its name suggests, one of the main ingredients in cranberry bread is cranberries. This fruit is native to the United States and Canada. It grows on low, woody shrubs and is naturally quite sour in taste. When sweetened with sugar, however, its tartness becomes less overpowering, allowing it to be incorporated into a number of desserts, beverages, and side dishes.

Like many other fruit breads, such as banana bread or blueberry bread, cranberry bread is a quick bread. This means it contains a fast-acting rising agent, usually baking soda, baking powder, or both. Unlike yeasted breads, which normally must be allowed to rise for several hours, quick breads can generally be baked as soon as their dough or batter has been prepared. The fast-acting leavening agent which they contain produces bubbles of carbon dioxide during baking, causing them to rise.


Most cranberry bread recipes call for fresh or dried cranberries, baking soda, baking powder, flour, sugar, oil, eggs, salt, and spices like cinnamon and ginger. Some cooks alter the flavor of the bread by adding additional ingredients, such as orange peel, almond extract, walnuts, or pumpkin puree. These ingredients are combined and baked in a loaf pan for approximately one hour. Usually, the texture of the resulting bread is dense and very moist, and its flavor is sweet with bursts of tartness. It is generally cut into slices and eaten as a breakfast food, as a snack with coffee or tea, or as a dessert.

Typically, cranberry season falls during late autumn and early winter. Fresh cranberries are widely available in North American supermarkets at this time. Therefore, many North Americans associate cranberry bread with cold weather, and with holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.


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