Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

October 11, 2006 at 12:44 am (Alma's faves, AMA, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, Quick weeknight recipe, Yearly menu plan) ()

This is a great fall dessert. I make it at least once or twice each fall when I first see fresh cranberries in the stores. 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 number of cranberries, and swapped out half the flour for whole wheat flour. 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.


  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil [originally butter I think?]
  • 1 egg (or for an excellent vegan version use 3 Tbs. water + 1 Tbs. ground flax or chia or even just water and 1 tsp. olive oil)
  • 2 tsp. orange zest (from two large oranges)
  • 2 cups whole raw cranberries, fresh or frozen (around 200 grams)  [originally 1 cup]
  • 3/4 cup white flour [originally 1.5 cups white flour and no whole wheat]
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar [originally 1 1/3 cups, see notes below]
  • 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil or butter a 9 inch round or 9×9 inch cake pan.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, process the cranberries until coarsely chopped.
  3. Add to a large mixing bowl: the pumpkin puree, olive oil, egg (or egg replacement) and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining (dry) ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Alternatively, if you’re lazy like me, just add the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl and mix them together on top of the wet ingredients before mixing them into the wet ingredients.
  5. If you haven’t done so already, add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Add the cranberries. Mix using the muffin method (i.e., do not over mix). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. 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 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 an airtight container, where it will keep for about 4? days until it begins to dry out.

Rating: B+

Update Nov 2021:

I used 3/4 cup of sugar this time and Derek and Alma liked it, but my (German) guests thought it was slightly too sweet. I also pulled it out much earlier than 45 minutes because my toothpick came out clean, but I discovered later that a few pieces in the middle were basically still batter.

Update Nov 10, 2018:

We used 1/2 cup of sugar this time and were slightly low on cranberries (maybe 2 Tbs. short).  Otherwise I followed the directions exactly. (I used all olive oil no butter.) The cake turned out well, but by 45 minutes it was starting to smell burnt. But I couldn’t detect any burnt notes in it once it was cooled. The cake this time was noticeably NOT sweet. Alma and Derek were happy, but I thought it could use a bit more sugar. Next time I will try 2/3 cup of sugar (10 2/3 Tbsp.). Derek said it tasted like muffins not cake, and it would be better toasted with butter on it.

Update Jan 25, 2018:

I asked Alma what she wanted to bring to daycare on her birthday, and she asked for these muffins. But I couldn’t find any fresh or frozen cranberries, and I didn’t have any pumpkin puree. Instead I used pureed steamed sweet potatoes (thinned out a tad with the steaming liquid) and 1 cup of dried cranberries + 1 cup of frozen red currants. The currants added the nice tart taste that the cranberries normally add. Since the dried cranberries were sweetened I cut the sugar back just a tad more: I used 10 Tablespoons (so 2 Tbsp. less than the 3/4 cup I used last time).

And I baked the muffins in my mini muffin tin. They took about 12 to 13 minutes to bake, and I ended up with 24 good-sized kid muffins. I could have actually made them smaller, but I wanted to use up all the batter and not get another pan dirty, so I really filled each cavity quite full.

I really liked the final muffins. They were a bit soggy on the bottom when I pulled them out of the muffin tin, but they dried out a bit. In the end they were perfectly moist. Alma also liked them. I would give them an A- but I think other people don’t like them as much as me and Alma. Derek said they were “too healthy tasting—not his thing.”

Update Dec 27, 2017:

I made this with Alma this morning, and I cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup. The cake was still plenty sweet. I ground up my polenta this time, so there were no gritty bits. The batter seemed almost too dry, but I resisted the urge to add water, and the cake was moist enough. I thought the flavor of the cake was very good but the texture was just a tad gummy, especially the middle pieces. It would probably be good baked in one of those “only edges” brownie pans. Alma liked it and so did Derek.

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 4 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.

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+

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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