What’s not to love about one recipe that can create two different but equally spectacular treats? This simple Cranberry Orange Bread recipe can be used to create 12 pretty-as-they-are-delicious sweet rolls OR 1 gorgeous swirl loaf. Both are perfect for special breakfasts or holiday gift-giving. The rolls or bread look fancy but are really quick to make (especially if you have a bread machine to make the dough for you). With or without the optional orange glaze, your friends and family will LOOOOOVE these sweet treats. As a bonus, I’ll also be sharing a third option without the filling which makes a fluffy, spiced loaf perfect for toasting or snacking.


Closeup of Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls with Icing

Ingredients for Cranberry Orange Bread


Dough Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp soft butter
  • 4 drops orange oil or 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 2 ¼ cups AP flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast

Filling Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
  • ½ cup craisins, chopped
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 4 drops orange oil or 1 tsp. grated orange peel

Optional Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 drops orange oil or 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • Half and half to make a thick glaze
  • OR – omit orange oil/zest and half and half and use orange juice to make the glaze

Making the Dough and Filling

Place all dough ingredients in bread machine and run dough cycle.  [Dough can, of course, be made by hand or in a mixer – simply knead dough several minutes till smooth and let rise until doubled]

Meanwhile, bring first 5 filling ingredients to a simmer in a small pan.  Cook 10-15 minutes until jammy.  Stir in remaining ingredients and allow to cool. 

When dough cycle completes, turn out dough onto a lightly greased counter.  Pat and gently roll dough into a 12” x 14” rectangle.  Spread filling over dough, leaving an inch or so of one long edge clear.  Starting at the other long edge, roll dough up into a log and pinch to seal.  At this point, you have two options to bake your Cranberry Orange Bread – as sweet rolls or a beautiful swirly loaf.

First up – Sweet Rolls!


pinnable image for cranberry orange sweet roll recipe

To Make Cranberry Orange Bread as Sweet Rolls

Slice log into 12 rolls.  Place in a greased 13 x 9 baking pan and allow to rise until roughly doubled.  Bake at 350 15 mins or until browned on top (rolls should be baked to 195 if using an instant-read thermometer).  Allow rolls to cool in pan. 


Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls rising in their baking pan

Next up, how to make the Swirl Bread version…


pinnable image for cranberry orange swirl bread recipe

To Make Cranberry Orange Bread as a Swirl Loaf

Cut log in half lengthwise.  Place halves next to each other, cut sides up.  Lay one half over the middle of the other to make an X, keeping the cut sides up.  Cross both ends over again to make a twist, also keeping the cut side up.  Gently place twist in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan (a 1.5 lb loaf pan).  Let rise till crowned over rim of pan – approx. 45 mins to an hour.  Bake in a 350 oven for 40-50 minutes (or till center of loaf tests 195 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). To ensure even baking, rotate pan halfway thru bake time and tent top with foil towards the end if necessary to prevent over-browning.  Cool a few minutes in pan and tip out onto rack to cool completely.  Glaze top.


Closeup of Cranberry Orange Swirl Bread

Bonus Third Option – A Simple Spiced Loaf

I hear ya. Sometimes you just want a special loaf of bread for toasting or snacking. You can definitely use this recipe as a jumping-off point for a simple, fruity, spiced loaf. Omit the filling and the glaze entirely. However, take the spices and the craisins from the filling recipe (NOT the fresh/frozen cranberries!) and add them to the dough ingredients in your bread machine. When the dough cycle is done, place the dough in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan (1.5 lb loaf pan), allow to rise until almost doubled, and bake as for the swirl loaf. Just check for doneness about 10 minutes earlier since there is no filling.


Optional Orange Glaze

Combine glaze ingredients, using just enough half and half or orange juice to make a thick glaze.  Start with 1 Tbsp. liquid and add more, 1 tsp. at a time until you have a thick glaze.


Helpful Tips

Rise times will be greatly impacted by the temperature in your kitchen.  The cooler your kitchen is, the longer it will take.  I use a Brod & Taylor multi-functional proofing box, which cuts WAY down on rise times.  Before I had a proofing box, I used to, no lie, proof breads in my kitchen cupboards.  One day I noticed that when my under-cupboard lites were on, my cupboards got a bit warm inside.  On chilly days I just switched on the lites, took some dishes out of the cupboard, and put my bread pan in there! 😁🤷🏻‍♀️

Preheating Your Oven – when baking bread you want your oven waiting for the bread, not your bread waiting for the oven!  What do I mean by that? If you wait to preheat your oven until your bread is fully risen, by the time you put it in the oven it will be over-proofed and could collapse.  Always preheat your oven when your bread looks about 20 minutes shy of where you want it to proof to.

More Variations – Feel free to get creative with the seasonings (like swapping in apple pie spice or your other favorite spices), add some chopped nuts, or replace the craisins with diced, dried apples and omit all the orange flavoring.  I haven’t tried this, but if you end up with a bunch of leftover cooked cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving, that might work for the filling!  The key word there is cooked, okay? 🙂

I hope you’ll give this delicious Cranberry Orange Bread a try in any or all of its variations.  It comes together quite easily and really is a special treat.

Peace,

Elizabeth

While you’re here, please check out these other delicious bread recipes — and be sure to pin them to bake later!



Cranberry Orange Bread Two Ways: Sweet Rolls or Swirl Loaf

An easy yeast dough and cranberry filling that can be shaped either as sweet rolls or a swirl loaf
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword Food Gift Idea, Holiday Bread, Yeast Bread
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings 12
Author Elizabeth at thewildolive.org

Ingredients

Dough Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp soft butter
  • 4 drops orange oil or 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 2 ¼ cups AP flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast

Filling Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberrieschopped
  • ½ cup craisinschopped
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 4 drops orange oil or 1 tsp. grated orange peel

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 drops orange oil or 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • Half and half to make thick glaze
  • OR – omit orange oil/zest and half and half and use orange juice to make the glaze

Instructions

Making the Dough

  • Place all dough ingredients in bread machine and run dough cycle. [Dough can, of course, be made by hand or in a mixer – simply knead dough several minutes till smooth and let rise until doubled]

Making the Filling

  • Meanwhile, bring first 5 filling ingredients to a simmer in a small pan. Cook 10-15 minutes until jammy. Stir in remaining ingredients and allow to cool.

When dough cycle completes

  • Turn out dough onto a lightly greased counter. Pat and gently roll dough into 12” x 14” rectangle. Spread filling over dough, leaving an inch or so of one long edge clear. Roll up into a log and pinch to seal. At this point you have two options to bake your Cranberry Orange Bread – as sweet rolls or a beautiful swirly loaf.

To Make Cranberry Orange Bread as a Swirl Loaf

  • Cut log in half lengthwise. Place halves next to each other, cut sides up. Lay one half over the middle of the other to make an X, keeping the cut sides up. Cross both ends over again to make a twist, also keeping the cut side up. Gently place twist in a greased 9” x 5” loaf pan (a 1.5 lb loaf pan). Let rise till crowned over rim of pan – approx. 45 mins to an hour. Bake in a 350 oven for 45-50 minutes (or till center of loaf tests 195 degrees on an instant read thermometer). To ensure even baking, rotate pan halfway thru bake time and tent top with foil towards the end if necessary to prevent over browning. Cool a few minutes in pan and tip out onto rack to cool completely. Glaze top.

To Make Cranberry Orange Bread as Sweet Rolls

  • Slice log into 12 rolls. Place in a greased 13 x 9 baking pan and allow to rise until roughly doubled. Bake at 350 15 mins or until browned on top (rolls should be baked to 195 if using an instant read thermometer). Allow rolls to cool in pan.

Making the Orange Glaze

  • Combine glaze ingredients, using just enough half and half or orange juice to make a thick glaze. Start with 1 Tbsp. liquid and add more, 1 tsp. at a time until you have a thick glaze.

Notes

Helpful Tips
Rise times will be greatly impacted by the temperature in your kitchen. The cooler your kitchen is, the longer it will take. I use a proofing box, (insert link) which cuts WAY down on rise times. Before I had a proofing box, I used to, no lie, proof breads in my kitchen cupboards. One day I noticed that when my under-cupboard lites were on, my cupboards got a bit warm inside. On chilly days I just switched on the lites, took some dishes out of the cupboard and put my bread pan in there! Smiley icon
Preheating Your Oven – when baking bread you want your oven waiting for the bread, not your bread waiting for the oven! If you wait to preheat your oven until your bread is fully risen, by the time you put it in the oven it will be over-proofed and could collapse. Always preheat your oven when your bread looks about 20 minutes shy of where you want it to proof to.
Feel free to get creative with the seasonings (like swapping in apple pie spice or your other favorite spices), add some chopped nuts, or replace the craisins with diced, dried apples and omit all the orange flavoring.