For the holidays, nothing beats this Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread with Walnuts, which can be given as gifts to friends and family or served on Christmas morning or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
After Thanksgiving you might find yourself with an excess of fresh cranberries, like I always do. What do you do with all those cranberries? I think the best way to use them is to bake them into this wonderful cranberry cream cheese bread.
As you expect, this bread is super moist and springy. The creaminess from the cream cheese offsets the tartness of the cranberries and the walnuts add a great nutty crunch.
Ingredients You Need
- Cranberries – Use fresh whole cranberries if you can. If not, frozen whole berries can be used. Don’t use canned cranberries or cranberry sauce, as these are too liquidy.
- Cream cheese – Be sure to use full fat cream cheese and take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you’ll use it to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Walnuts – The walnuts add a great crunch and nuttiness to this bread. You don’t have to add them, if you don’t like nuts. You can also replace them with pecans or hazelnuts, if you want.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter and take it out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you’ll use it to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Vanilla and almond extracts – you can just use one or the other, if you don’t have both, but together they add a lot of nuanced flavors to the bread.
- Flour – All purpose flour is what we use in this recipe.
- Baking powder
Equipment You’ll Need
You can mix this dough with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, whichever is easiest for you.
How to Make Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread
Preheat the oven to 350° F. This recipe makes two loafs of cranberry bread. Grease two loaf pans and set them aside. It’s fine if you use glass or tin, both will work equally well.
For mixing the bread batter, you can use a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Choose your bowl accordingly. Add the softened butter and cream cheese to the bowl and mix it with your stand mixer or hand mixer, until smooth and fluffy.
Add sugar and mix it until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla extract and almond extract. No need to mix at this point. You’ll soon be adding the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir to incorporate the three together. With your mixer on low, add the flour mixture slowly to the bowl and mix until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter. You want it to be nice an airy.
Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
Then pour equal amounts of the batter into each prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with your spoon or spatula, so it’s even.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until light brown on top. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. The cooking time will vary depending on your altitude, so do keep an eye on it so you don’t overcook it.
Cool the bread in the loaf pans for about 15 minutes, until they’re cool enough to touch. Remove the loafs from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, before slicing.
How to Serve This Bread
At our house, we tend to devour this bread. The first loaf is gone the second it’s been sliced. The aroma of it cooking is too much to resist.
But the second loaf we reserve for serving as a late morning snack with our tea or coffee. It makes a great treat to serve to guests who pop over too, so it’s a good idea to have a loaf ready around the holidays.
Because it’s so moist, you don’t need to add any butter to it, but if you want to make it a bit more savory, a pat of butter or a smear of cream cheese wouldn’t be amiss.
Additional Notes to Make Perfect Cranberry Bread
- If you don’t like nuts in your bread, you can leave out the walnuts. You can replace them with another type of nut, sliced almonds are really good!, or you could make this a sweet bread by adding chocolate chips.
- It’s important to let the bread cool completely before slicing it. It will firm up quite a bit as it cools.
- You can freeze the loaves, if you want. After cooling completely, wrap them in plastic wrap and/or tin foil, then put them in the freezer. They’ll keep for at least a couple of months if you’ve packaged them well.
- These loaves make great gifts at Christmas for your gift baskets.
Equipment We Used
- Loaf pans (we also like these silicon loaf pans)
- Stand mixer or electric hand mixer
- Wooden cutting board
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Cranberry Cream Cheese Bread with Walnuts
- 1 cup butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh cranberries whole
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.
- Add the softened butter and softened cream cheese to a bowl and mix with a stand mixer or hand mixer, until smooth and fluffy.
- Add sugar and mix until incorporated.
- Add eggs one at a time until well mixed.
- Add vanilla extract and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture slowly until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.
- Stir in the cranberries and walnuts. Pour equal amounts into each prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until light brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.
- This recipe makes 2 loafs of bread.
- Once cooled, you can package the loaf in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.