For a lot of Thanksgiving goodies, I am all about trying new variations. Grilled turkey? Sign me up! Mashed root vegetables with roasted garlic? Pass them over. New variations on green bean casserole? I’m in! But if you try to give me a new type of cranberry bread, then forget about it. I believe in monogamy when it comes to my cranberry quick breads, and for me, my one and only love is Wilburn’s cranberry bread. The rest are just imposters. How do I tell? If the bread doesn’t taste like this….

cranberry and orange


…then it’s not cranberry bread in my book.

Wilburn’s cranberry bread is characterized by its citrus flavor. With a quarter cup of orange zest and a half cup of orange juice, there’s no mistaking it. You also leave the cranberries whole so when you slice through it, you get these beautiful red circles of berry goodness.

cranberry bread

So, who is this Wilburn guy anyways? Wilburn’s restaurant was popular before my time in Central Wisconsin. Our family somehow managed to finangle some of their recipes and now we enjoy them on a regular basis despite the fact that the restaurant burned to the ground years ago.

In my version below, I have swapped in some whole grain flours and added more berries. I hope you enjoy it and make sure to check out the other cranberry recipes in the cranberrylove bloghop. Check out this post for more details.

Cranberry Orange Bread

cranberry orange bread


2 cups flour (all-purpose OR 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup spelt flour)
[1/2] tsp salt
1 [1/2] tsp baking powder
[1/2] tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 TB. melted butter
2 TB. hot water
[1/2] cup orange juice
[1/4] cup orange zest
2 [1/2] cup whole cranberries
[1/2] cup walnuts OR pecans

1. Preheat oven to 325 (dgF). Grease AND flour a standard loaf pan.

Tip: If you don’t flour the pan, your bread will not come out. I keep some flour in an spice shaker so I can just sprinkle it on without making too big of a mess.

2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar in a large bowl.

Tip: Don’t have a sifter? Me either. Use a fine mesh strainer over your bowl. Don’t have a fine mesh strainer? Then just whisk it together.

3. In a medium bowl, combine egg, butter, water, orange juice and orange juice.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

5. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.

6. Pour into prepared pan.

cranberry bread dough

Don’t worry, this bread doesn’t rise a lot.

7. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with one or two crumbs on it.

cranberry bread in pan

8. Let cool 10 minutes in pan and then slide a butter knife around the edges and invert bread on rack. Flip right side up and let cool completely.

cranberry bread loaf

Recipe Review:

Do I need to even say it?

cranberry bread

I love this bread. In my latest version, I added pecans instead of walnuts and I have to say that it gave a nice sweet twist. But I do love my walnuts too…

Don’t limit this bread to Thanksgiving. It should be enjoyed throughout the holidays (and after). You can use frozen berries just as easy as fresh.

cranberry bread

Though I should warn you, after making this bread, all others will pale in comparison.

Just saying…


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving readers! What are you thankful for this year?

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