Quick Loaf: Cranberry Apple Walnut Bread

Eating a slice of this is a happy way to start the day!

Eating a slice of this is a happy way to start, or end, your day!

For many, many years I used to run up to the local health food store and get one of their delicious muffins…well, maybe more than one…to have for my breakfast. They made a few different kinds, but the one I loved the best featured fresh cranberries, apples and walnuts in a dense, moist muffin that had some underlying spice to it. I became addicted.

Some years ago the health food grocery closed their little deli section and changed over to a deli case, one which unfortunately meant the end to those muffins. But I remember them so well, and I’ve always wanted to recreate them.

This is a very close representation of those flavors. It’s not a muffin, though you could certainly make some muffins out of this recipe. It does feature fresh cranberries, which I happen to have a lot of in my freezer at the moment. But if you can’t get them right now or at all, by all means substitute another cup of apple or some pear for the cranberries, perhaps in small chunks for contrasting texture to the grated apple. Or better yet, feel free to experiment and try your own favorite berry or fruit that you think goes well with apple.

I particularly enjoy the contrasting tart pop of fresh cranberry in your mouth against the mildly sweet background of the apple and walnut in this bread. This loaf isn’t an overly sweet thing…in fact I would venture to say it’s a pretty healthy entry into the quick bread category. But it does make a perfect slice for breakfast, and even has just enough sweetness for dessert, in my opinion!

Cranberry Apple Walnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf

3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 (generous) teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups grated Pink Lady apple (or other baking apple) with skin (about 2 medium apples)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/3 cup low fat milk
1 cup fresh cranberries, whole
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one standard loaf pan with unsalted butter and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the wheat flour, the white flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. In another large bowl, beat the sugar and the butter together with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended, then add the egg and beat until combined. On low speed, add the grated apple, dry flour mixture and the milk in about 3 alternating batches to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating each ingredient until just incorporated, do not over beat. Gently stir in the cranberries and walnuts with a spatula or spoon, then transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the loaf is shrinking from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, then turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool on the rack until just warm or at room temp. Cut into slices and serve. This makes a great gift, too!



50 thoughts on “Quick Loaf: Cranberry Apple Walnut Bread

  1. I worked in a cafe once that had the best baked goods and I was delighted when they published a cookbook. I’m glad you could figure this one out, it’s not easy on your own. I like the sound of those flavors in combination, what a wonderful slice to go with coffee in the morning! xx


  2. Your description, Betsy, sold me on this recipe — although the photos certainly didn’t hurt. I love the idea of tart cranberries buried in a bread, especially if that bread is apple-flavored. The fact that it isn’t overly sweet is a big plus, too. I’m pinning this one for future use. I, too, have a ton of cranberries in my freezer that I need to “address.” πŸ™‚


    • Hey John and thanks so much for such a lovely comment. I’m so glad you like this one enough to pin! πŸ™‚ We’re really enjoying this bread for breakfast and mostly for dessert. I can see more of it in our future while the apples are in season. My next venture with the abundance of cranberries may be a curd. I just have to get around to it!


  3. This looks delicious, something I’ll have to give a try! And as you said a perfect breakfast dessert that is not too sweet. I like having a “little something” with my morning coffee or tea. Its the perfect start to a good day!


    • Hi Ali! I’m glad you like this loaf and I’m so glad you visited because for some reason you fell off my follow list. I’ve corrected that now, so hopefully I’ll start getting your posts again. πŸ™‚


  4. I can certainly relate Betsy, when I first started working downtown I used to get a date bran muffin every so often until I too became addicted to its dense sweet texture. I have since recreated the recipe but much healthier as you have! And making a loaf is very smart, a slice is likely not as big as a muffin would be so it’s not only healthier, it’s a smaller portion size too! I know my husband would love this recipe, he loves tart cranberries. Hope you are well.


    • Exactly right, Eva! The slice is smaller than the muffin, usually, and just as satisfying. I hope your husband enjoys this if you, or he, decides to make it. I’m just fine…over the cold and the hand is slowly healing…six months total the doc says, but way better than it was so all is good. And I hope you’re doing well, too?


      • Thanks for asking Betsy, this cold (yes, still) has me knocked out! And today my husband came home with a sore throat. Not sure if it’s a continuation or a new one but on Monday I got lung X-rays and a blood test, so I’m hoping we can figure it out and get it finished once and for all. Maybe I just need 10 days down south????? Sigh. Perhaps next year.
        Glad you’re doing well, that hand must have scared you being a designer. I’m very glad that its healing as expected. Have a lovely evening.


        • Oh gosh, Eva, I’m worried about you now, m’dear! Sure hope that your tests turn out okay with minimal meds/care in order to be good as new very soon…and JT, as well! Wish I could send our mild winter to you…except for the global warming it would require. We’re freezing right now but will be 68 degrees on Sunday just in time for daylight savings time! Yes, the knuckle, as the case is, had me quite worried and looking at my disability coverage for the first time in the oh-so-many years I’ve been on my own, but it’s all improving…well enough to go back to clay as I’d planned for a sideline, and more on that here in a bit. Meanwhile, you take good care…and have a lovely rest of your evening. (And a big thanks for your well wishes, too!)


  5. There’s something so seductive about a “sweet” bread filled with bits of juicy tart! I’m not a huge sweets kind of gal so it’s the perfect and complimentary contrast here that has me itching to try it! Really love the sounds of this bread Betsy! So I think I’ll print me a copy and get busy, soon as I can! πŸ™‚


    • Hi Kay! This really is great for gifts because it lasts for several days and is easy to wrap and transport. Thanks for reminding me of that…I should have put it in the post and maybe I will! πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy this bread.


  6. Our favorite foods become part of a rhythm. When something changes, a little something is lost… unless we find another way. So it appears you have just created a new, delicious rhythm. Thank you for sharing it! Happy Spring!


    • Thank you for your kind words, Granny! And yes, so true about the rhythm of our foods. They are a part of our story, one that grows and changes as time goes on. Such a lovely way to put it, and thank you for that, too!


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    • I think you probably could. Perhaps add a bit more apple to provide some moisture lost with the fresh cranberries. I haven’t tried it, but quick breads are so forgiving, I can’t imagine it not working! πŸ™‚


        • I’d say maybe try 1/2 cup more of the grated apple…make sure they are grated because they distribute through the batter that way and cook more quickly…and 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. Or perhaps a better thought might be to keep the apple the same as in the recipe and try soaking, and even heating on low heat, your cranberries in a bit of fresh orange juice (perhaps 3/4 cup berries to 2-3 tablespoons of juice to reconstitute them a bit, drain them and use like the fresh ones. In that scenario you wouldn’t need the extra apple I should think. Haven’t tested this but I’ll bet it would work!


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