Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

October 11, 2006 at 12:44 am (AMA, B plus, Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, Quick weeknight recipe)

This is a great fall dessert. The pumpkin and cornmeal give this bread a great texture and the cranberries are marvelously tart. I made it last year for Thanksgiving and everyone liked it. This is based on a recipe in the AMA Family Health cookbook. I’ve decreased the sugar, doubled the amount of cranberries, and made it vegan. It was good to start with, and now I think it’s even better! The traditional look is to bake this in a loaf pan but I think it holds together better and has a better (crispier) texture when baked in a standard cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil or butter a 9 inch round or 9×9 inch cake pan.
In the work bowl of a food processor, process until coarsely chopped:

  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, fresh or frozen (around 200 grams)  [originally 1 cup]

Remove and set aside (do not wash the work bowl). Add to the work bowl and process briefly to blend:

  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 0.25 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 – 1 cup granulated sugar [originally 1 1/3 cups]
  • 1/2 tsp. salt [originally 3/4 tsp.]
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large mixing bowl, mix together until smooth:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil + 3 Tbs. water   -OR-  1 egg + 1 Tbs. melted butter + 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. zest from two large oranges

Add in the dry ingredients and cranberries using the muffin method (e.g., do not overmix). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the bread has shrunk slightly away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean (about 45-50? minutes, 55-60 if using a loaf pan). If you cool it in the pan briefly (for about 5? minutes) it will be easier to remove it from the pan, but do not leave it sitting in the pan too long or it will get soggy on the bottom. Turn onto a rack to cool completely before putting in a airtight container, where it will keep for about 4? days until it begins to dry out.

Rating: B+

Update Dec 5, 2010:

I finally found fresh cranberries in Saarbruecken!  After almost 3 years I saw fresh cranberries in the Turkish grocery near my house.  They’re imported from the U.S., so I felt a little guilty about buying them, but I couldn’t resist.  The container of cranberries contained 250 grams, which is just a little more than two cups worth.  I immediately decided to make this recipe (using a can of pumpkin I brought from the U.S.).

It turned out that I only had 1 cup of white flour left, however, so I used 1 cup of white flour, 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup of cornmeal.   I was worried about the texture so I didn’t use the reduced amount of sugar listed above.  The original recipe calls for 1 1/3 of sugar, and I put in 1 1/4 cups.  Next time I’d reduce it to 1 cup.  I used a little less then 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt.  I made the non-vegan version this time:  1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 3 Tbs. olive oil, and 1 Tbs. butter, plus the orange zest.  I put the (very fluffy) batter in a greased 8×8 pyrex pan, and baked it at 350 in my convection oven for about 40 minutes.

I thought the cake turned out really well.  The only thing I would change was to next time use a little less sugar.  The whole wheat flour and extra cornmeal gave it a nice texture and hearty taste, but it didn’t taste at all like co-op fare.  The cake was really moist and rich tasting, and the tart cranberries cut through the sweetness of the cake.  Next time I might try baking it in muffin tins.

Derek wasn’t very excited about the cake, but I served it to guests and everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

Rating for this version: B+

Update Dec 3, 2011:

I mostly followed last year’s amounts:  200g of cranberries, 1 cup of white flour, 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 cup of cornmeal.  But it turned out that I accidentally used fine polenta rather than cornmeal.  The final cake ended up a tad gritty.  I used 1 cup of sugar, which seemed good.  But I think next time I’ll cut the sugar by 2 Tbs. and/or add in a few more cranberries.   I used 2 Tbs. of butter and 2 Tbs. olive oil.  I’m not sure if it was the switch of one tablespoon oil for melted butter, or the polenta, but the batter seemed a bit dry.  Maybe it was because I mixed the cranberries with the wet ingredients before mixing in the dry ingredients.  Whatever the reason, the batter seemed so dry that I ended up adding several (3?) tablespoons of water.  I think I added too many though, because the final cake came out just a little too damp in the middle.  The top and edges crisped up nicely, and the flavor and texture were nice, other than the extra moistness and the polenta bits.

Nutritional info for December 5th version: 24% of calories from fat, 70% from carbs, and 6% from protein.  If you cut the cake into 16 small slices each slice would contain 145 calories.

Serving Size: 1/12 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 193
Total Fat 5.4g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 20mg
Sodium 276mg
Carbohydrate 35.1g
Dietary Fiber 2.7g
Sugars 18g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A 65% Vitamin C 6%
Calcium    2% Iron 6

There’s a similar recipe (originally from Gourmet)  for a pumpkin cranberry bread on  The reviews generally suggest increasing the amount of sugar (from 1 cup) and doubling all the spices (basically to the amounts in this recipe).  And it has way fewer cranberries than this recipe.



  1. captious said,

    A reviewer on recipezaar posted this comment:

    I need egg-free recipes due to allergies in our family. Everyone loved this one. It worked great with whole wheat flour, adding just a bit more water. I didn’t have all the spices on hand, so I used 1/2 C pumpkin pie filling (the flavored kind with all the spices already added) and 1/2 C regular canned pumpkin. Adding a simple cream cheese frosting would be delicious. Good and healthy recipe!!

    Five stars out of Five Stars

  2. Kathy C said,

    LOVE IT! My toddler is allergic to eggs, milk, and peanuts, so I’ve been looking for recipes that we can bring to our family Thanksgiving gathering that are safe for her and delicious enough that everyone can enjoy. This one is a keeper! I must admit, Ididn’t have the ground cloves on hand, and I used dried cranberries plus a bit more water, and I baked it in a bundt pan, which turned out beautifully.

  3. Light cranberry orange muffins « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] have a recipe for pumpkin cranberry bread that I just adore.  I wanted to try making it into muffins, but I couldn’t find any more […]

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