This delicious cranberry lemon bread combines tart cranberries with lovely lemon. Lightly sweet and moist loaf, with a tangy lemon glaze.
Cranberries and lemon together are a winning flavour combination and a perfect way to celebrate fresh cranberry season! That said, cranberries freeze so beautifully, even when it isn’t cranberry season, just grab a bag from the freezer and you are all set.
This cranberry lemon loaf is perfect for the holiday season or gifts from the kitchen.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Cranberries – It’s hard to beat fresh cranberries in this loaf, so if it is fresh cranberry season, those would always be my first choice.
Cranberries freeze beautifully though, so if you only have frozen cranberries, they would be a great 2nd choice. Simply use from frozen.
Finally, if you only have dried cranberries, you can use them, though the resulting loaf will be sweeter, with the sweetened dried cranberries.
Lemon – as you’ll need some lemon zest for this loaf, you’ll need to start with a fresh lemon. You should get the zest and the juice you need for the glaze from 1 medium-large lemon.
Room temperature ingredients – When you take your butter out of the fridge, take the eggs out, too, so they come to temperature at the same time. If your cranberries are in the fridge, take them out, too.
Want more lemon flavour? – Add additional lemon zest to the batter. Lemon zest is preferable to lemon juice, as you have to add a good amount of juice to get more lemon flavour and the extra liquid in the batter would affect the texture of the loaf. Lemon zest just adds flavour without affecting the liquid content of the batter.
Planning to skip the glaze? – The glaze on this loaf provides a nice bit of extra lemon flavour. If you opt to skip the glaze, you may want to add additional lemon zest to the loaf part.
Baking times will vary! – always remember that baking times will vary from kitchen to kitchen, as ovens vary, pans are different colours and sizes and even the temperature of the batter will make a difference Baking times are guidelines only. I like to set a timer ahead of the suggested time, just to have a look through the window (never open the oven unless you think it’s ready to test!). You can usually gauge how things are progressing.
Watch for the loaf to dome slightly, pull away from the ends of the pan and be lightly golden in colour, then test with a long skewer in the centre of the cake. The skewer should come out clean. Always bake until your loaf gets to that point, no matter what the clock says :) Catching your baking when it is just cooked is the goal, as even a few minutes of over-baking can dry out loaves such as this one.
Storage and Freezing
Store the loaf at room temperature in an airtight container, with the cut end wrapped with plastic wrap. It will keep well for a couple of days.
This loaf will also freeze well, though it is best frozen without the glaze, then glazed fresh when thawed. Keep in the freezer up to 3 months.
Get the Recipe: Glazed Cranberry Lemon Loaf
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and levelled
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, reduce to 1/4 tsp if using salted butter
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon, about 1 Tbsp
- 2 large eggs, 1 at a time, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk, whole milk (3%) recommended
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, *see Note 1 for using frozen or dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup icing/confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 325F (regular bake/not fan assisted). Grease an 8x4 or 4x10 loaf pan and line the bottom and long sides with a sheet of parchment paper that extends over the sides by an inch or so (for easy removal). Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside about 2 teaspoons of flour to dust the cranberries later.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar at medium-low speed, until lightened in colour, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour mixture, alternately with the milk, mixing until well combined.
- Toss the cranberries with the reserved 2 teaspoons of flour, then gently fold the cranberries into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth top of batter.
- Bake in a preheated 325F for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly golden in colour and a tester comes out clean. (mine took 55 min in light coloured 4x10 loaf pan.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, before lifting onto a wire rack using the parchment paper (allow to cool 10 minutes if not using parchment). Peel off parchment and allow to cool completely before drizzling the glaze over-top.
- To prepare the glaze, combine the icing sugar and lemon juice, adding enough lemon juice until you have a glaze that is just thin enough to pour off a spoon. Drizzle over cooled cake, then let stand 20-30 minutes to allow the glaze to set before slicing.
- Frozen cranberries will work fine. Use from frozen. Do note that the loaf may take a few extra minutes in the oven to bake thoroughly. Dried cranberries will technically work, though they are obviously sweeter than either fresh or frozen cranberries. You may wish to reduce the sugar in the loaf slightly (by 2-4 Tbsp) to compensate. Don't reduce the sugar too much, or it will affect the texture/moistness of the loaf.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!