Cranberry Orange Spiced Loaf Cake

Is it a loaf cake, is it a sweet bread? I don’t know, but it’s damn delicious.

December 11, 2020


Ashley Fungone

Cranberry Orange Spiced Loaf Cake

Happy Friday everyone! I had plans to post a cocktail today, but this cake was speaking to me, begging me to release it to the world. So, here we are.

I always find it funny when I look at my recipe collection and see the overwhelming amount of cake recipes. When I first thought about starting a blog and writing my recipes down, I would have bet money on pies being the majority of my bakes. I mean, I used to work in a pie bakery, pie is my favorite dessert to eat, and (at the time) it was what I made most often for friends and family. In fact, cakes were never really my go-to dessert to eat or to make. But one year later, and I can’t deny that cakes have surely chosen me (whether I like it or not).

This recipe might be up for debate when thinking of cake. Some might even say it’s a “bread”, like banana bread or pumpkin bread. But I think it’s more closely aligned with a loaf cake or snack cake. Whatever you choose to call it, this recipe deserves a spot on your “to do” list this weekend. If you’re at all nervous about the idea of making a cake, this one is definitely a good option for beginners. It only requires a few main steps (combine the wet stuff, combine the dry stuff, stir together, bake) but has amazing flavors of tart cranberry, zesty citrus, and warm holiday spices. If you feel confident, feel free to skip to the recipe and get started. If you need some more help, I’ve included some tips below to get you off on the right foot.

Tips for Making This recipe

Use fresh orange juice. I like squeeze my own naval oranges for this recipe because the juice just tastes so much better (and it’s cheaper!). Since I’m baking a lot over here, I also like to work with as little waste as possible. Using fresh oranges means that I not only get the juice but can also use the zest and none of the orange goes to waste.

Use a gentle hand. One of the keys to making a moist a tender cake is gently folding the batter rather than vigorously mixing. Get used to folding your batter gently, until just incorporated, with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. When we say “just incorporated” we mean until the flour just incorporates to the batter and becomes moist. You shouldn’t see any large pockets of flour that are still bone dry.

Use fresh cranberries. You can certainly swap fresh cranberries or half as many dried ones, but I think the fresh berries give this cake work so much better. Dried cranberries tend to give a very concentrated tart flavor, whereas fresh ones still have a subtle sweetness and bite that take the flavors to a different place. As always, follow your heart and use what you prefer.

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Cranberry Orange Spiced Loaf Cake



  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, about 1 large orange
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice, about 1 large orange
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and sliced

For the Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, about 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 Tbsp orange zest (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line with parchment. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl combine the cranberries and sugar. Add the orange zest and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant.
  4. Add the milk, melted butter, vanilla, orange juice and eggs. Stir together with a spatula or large spoon until fully mixed.
  5. In two additions, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Fold in with a spatula just until incorporated between each addition. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until light golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs (no wet batter).
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.
  9. Slice and enjoy!

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