A flavorful gluten free and dairy free quick bread filled with tart cranberries and vibrant orange flavor. A recipe with a story behind it.
During my years of teaching first grade, teachers and parents worked feverishly to create an unforgettable Thanksgiving feast each year. Those feasts were filled with some of the most amazing food ever.
While our superhero classroom parents were busy creating and cooking at home for our feast, my class and I were busy preparing what would become a yearly tradition: Cranberry Orange Bread.
See, this bread had a story behind it…literally. Each year the children would gather around to hear me read Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin to them. The book is a classic and tells the story of Grandmother and Maggie. Each year Grandmother invited a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowed Maggie to do the same. She would encourage Maggie to ask someone poor or lonely. But Grandmother was none too happy when Maggie invited Mr. Whiskers to dinner.
Now, there are certainly some issues with the story especially how judgemental Grandmother is regarding how Mr. Whiskers looks. It does give opportunity to talk together about falsely judging people based on things like appearances. What has made the story infamous is Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread. The recipe is included in the book, and let me tell you, the bread is amazing.
Before having to go gluten free, I made this recipe for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Everyone agreed: the bread is crazy good. It’s dense but so flavorful and sweet.
Remaking Grandmother’s Cranberry Orange Bread
Now that we are a gluten free house, I wanted to remake the recipe. I have three different options for you, all of which yield a truly delicious loaf of quick bread. I will include my favorite rendition in the recipe card below, but all of the options are delicious.
The Original Recipe
Here is the original recipe as it appears in the book:
In my first attempt to remake this recipe, I simply substituted 2 cups of Bob’s 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour for the all purpose flour. That’s it. I made no further changes and followed the instructions as written. The resulting bread was dense and heavy but in a pleasant way. The bread was sweet and full of cranberry and orange flavor.
Second Attempt – Reducing the Sugar & Making it Dairy Free
One of the goals that I always have in baking is to reduce the sugar content in recipes. Let’s admit it: sugar makes dessert and quick breads yummy. But even if you can reduce the sugar content by 1/4 or 1/3, you are doing a good thing.
In my second recipe attempt, I used 2 cups of Bob’s 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour as before, but this time I opted to substitute 1/3 cup of brown sugar and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar instead of the 1 cup of sugar that the original recipe calls for. I also used 1/2 cup of avocado oil instead of butter.
The resulting bread was quite good. It was not as sweet as the original but still pleasantly sweet and satisfying.
Third Attempt: Giving the Bread Some Lift & Rise
While I love the original sweet, dense bread, I did want to try to lighten up the bread and give it a bit more lift and rise. To accomplish this I made significant changes to the bread. I added an additional egg, used baking powder instead of baking soda, reduced the amount of orange juice, and tinkered with some gluten free bread flour.
I made two loaves of bread, using two different kinds of flour. In the first loaf, I used Bob’s 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour. The resulting bread still retained a bit of the original denseness but was lightened up significantly.
The second loaf of bread featured Jovial’s Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread Flour. As would be expected, the resulting bread had significant rise and lift and a far different crumb than the others. The texture was more reminiscent of a piece of bread than a sweet dessert loaf. The bread was delicious, and for those who are looking to serve a bread that does not scream sweet dessert, this is a great option. My family devoured it.
Final Thoughts & Recipe Notes
The recipe below takes all of my recipe attempts and marries them into one recipe that produces an amazing slice of quick bread. Slightly dense and sweet, I think you’ll love this treat as much as my family does.
While you can opt to use frozen cranberries in the recipe, I recommend using fresh cranberries when available.
Also, be sure to use light, yellow raisins in the recipe. They lend a unique flavor and work so much better than regular raisins in the recipe.
- 1/2 cup avocado or other mild oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups Gluten Free Flour with xanthan gum (I used Bob's 1 to 1)
- 2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
- 1 orange, zested
- 1 & 1/4 cups light, yellow raisins
- 1 & 1/2 cups chopped cranberries (fresh preferred, but frozen can be used)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the avocado oil, orange juice, sugars, almond milk, and eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Stir on low until the eggs are beaten.
Add in the flour, baking powder, and orange zest. Mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Fold in the raisins and cranberries with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.
Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If you notice that the top of the bread is becoming darker than you desire, you can cover the top of the loaf with foil.
I prefer to allow the loaf to cool completely before cutting. I also think that this bread is best served chilled in the refrigerator.
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